First and foremost, Allen was disappointed that he allowed Craig to get deep on a calf slicer, which actually forced him to abandon a choke of his own earlier in the fight. Allen didn’t feel like his legs were at risk in the bout, but then out of nowhere, he found himself in considerable danger with potential damage done from the submission attempt.
“I wasn’t expecting him to go for my legs,” Allen said during the UFC Vegas 82 post-fight show. “I saw him do it in one or two fights, but I wasn’t expecting him to go under. That’s why I kept letting him dive under, because I didn’t really care.
“I wanted to go for his back. But he made me eat my words a little bit with that. I was like, I can’t believe I let him go under like that. I never do that. I came out with the win. I got in one position there that was a little hairy, but I’m not new to this, I’m true to this. Just another day.”
While he escaped the submission and maintained dominance throughout the rest of the fight, Allen admits that Paul definitely had him locked up in a bad position that could have done considerable damage.
“Things were popping,” Allen revealed. “But I think I’ve popped a lot of things in my ankles before. I felt it popping, but I knew at one point, when you do jiu-jitsu enough, you know there’s no more. You know he’s not wrenching anymore, nothing else is going to happen.
“Again, I’ve been in a lot of positions like that. I’ve been popped in tournaments and stuff like that growing up, so I knew there was nothing left as far as extension-wise. So I was fine, but it’s a little sore right now.”
A calf slicer typically puts immense pressure on the knee, but Allen says it was his ankle that actually felt worse during the submission and after the fight. He doesn’t anticipate any serious injury as a result, but Allen also doesn’t plan on fighting again until around April 2024, so he has time to recover if necessary.
“It’s more my ankle,” Allen explained. “It was just from that one transition. I felt it in the ankle and my knee, but I don’t really feel too bad in my knee at all right now. I feel it in my ankle but it was just from that one transition, and I felt it in the second [round] when it went to step out, but again, it’s my fault.
“Paul’s a tough guy. I’m happy to have that name on my résumé. I defended my [rankings] spot now twice and I think I’ve earned my shot at a No. 1 contender. I’m tied for the longest win streak [in the middleweight division] and I’m finishing these guys.”
Immediately after the win, Allen called for a No. 1 contender fight as he continues taking out middleweights sitting behind him in the rankings.
Ideally, Allen will make his return against someone who will allow him to eventually compete for a UFC title, but he’ll allow the matchmakers to decide the name on the other end of his bout agreement.
Until then, he’ll keep a close eye on the biggest fights happening at 185 pounds, including the title fight headlining UFC 297 in January when Sean Strickland defends his belt for the first time against South African middleweight Dricus du Plessis.
While he’s never faced du Plessis in his career, Allen does have a knockout loss on his résumé from Strickland when the two met back in 2020. Since then, Allen has gone 8-1 overall, and he looks forward to the day he can avenge that loss to Strickland.
“I’ve been in there with Sean,” Allen said. “I was a lot younger, I was a lot [more] immature mentally, and I think I was still winning that fight. I just made a bad audible and I got caught.
“I’m happy he’s the champion. Congrats to him. I think he’s a funny guy. I think he plays the antics, but that all aside, I know in my heart I’m better and I think he does too, but we’ll see what happens.”
As for Strickland’s next fight, Allen expects him to get the job done, because he just doesn’t seem all that impressed by du Plessis or his current run in the UFC.
“Dricus just runs his mouth and he catches guys on bursts, but other than [Robert] Whittaker, who’s he beat the whole time in a fight?” Allen said. “He’s always losing and comes back, which is great. He’s good at digging deep, congrats to him.
“But I don’t personally think he beats Sean. He definitely doesn’t beat me, so I don’t worry about it.”