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Sports Illiustrated Notebook: Arnold Allen searching for breakout moment against Calvin Kattar

Allen looks to move in line for a featherweight title shot with a win Saturday at UFC Fight Night 213.

Arnold Allen (18-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) has ripped off nine consecutive wins in the octagon, but the biggest will be his next if he can defeat Calvin Kattar (23-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) Saturday at UFC Fight Night 213 in the Apex in Las Vegas.

The fight provides an opportunity for the sixth-ranked Allen to break into the top five. Kattar is currently ranked No. 5 overall, but taking his place won't come easily. Kattar is a "Fight of the Night" machine, and he is entering this bout especially hungry following a controversial split decision loss in June to Josh Emmett.

"He's a tough veteran," says Allen. "He's fought a lot of the top guys, he's beat a lot of the top guys. He's a game fighter and going to try to take my head off. That's what I respect most – he's coming to take me out. He's going to bring the best out of me."

If Allen wins, he puts himself in the mix for a shot at the interim featherweight title, which is a distinct possibility with undisputed reigning champ Alexander Volkanovski moving up divisions to challenge Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title.

"It's definitely crossed my mind," said Allen. "That's something that might be on the line, but my focus is on the fight."

High stakes are involved for both fighters. Kattar needs to avoid a second straight loss at all costs. For Allen, a five-round bout represents a proving ground. He must show that he is ready to take the next step in his career toward becoming a champion.

"It's nice to finally get a five-rounder," Allen says. "The goal is always to get a finish, but it would be nice to prove I can do the five rounds and answer those questions. But the goal is to win. I'm here to win."

Paul plans on making transition to MMA


Jake Paul seeks to continue his unblemished tenure in boxing. Further into his combat sports career, he is planning to transition into mixed martial arts.

"I still have a long way to go in the sport of boxing and a lot to do, but MMA, that's a goal for the future," Paul says. "I've been watching it my whole life. Monkey see, monkey do."

Paul boxes MMA legend Anderson Silva tomorrow on pay-per-view. A victory would be massive for Paul (5-0), who has defeated Tyron Woodley twice, as well as Ben Askren, but never someone of the caliber of Silva (3-1). Considering this is boxing and not MMA º and Silva, despite entering in remarkable shape, is not the same athlete now at 47 – an impressive performance would still add to Paul's highlight reel as he attempts to establish himself as a legitimate fighter.

When Paul does eventually make the move to MMA, he believes he could compete as a middleweight, which was the division Silva once defined.

"I could be somewhere between 170 and 185," Paul says. "Somewhere around there. I have a wrestling background. I know a little bit of jiu-jitsu. I think it would be fun."

Adding to the stakes of the Paul-Silva bout is a newly announced bet. If Silva wins the fight, he will get to match up against Paul again, this time in kickboxing. But if Paul wins, he will join up with Silva to create a united fighters association to help UFC fighters earn better pay and better health, with Silva becoming the interim president.

"I am absolutely not ready to kickbox him," Paul says. "That's what makes the bet so interesting. It's a win-win for everybody."

The bet seems to indicate that Paul will win, as there are far more significant stakes on his side. Or, perhaps if Silva wins, he will still follow through on creating the united fighters association. No matter how this unfolds, it will certainly be interesting, and Paul plans to put on his best showing yet during the fight.

"My best attributes are my heart and my will to win – I always want to put on a show for the fans, and this is going to be the fight of the year," Paul says. "There is an amazing undercard, and it's going to be a spectacle the whole night thing. I'm so excited it's finally here."

With many of his interviews focused on Dana White and the UFC, Paul's boxing career has intricately been linked to MMA fighters. This fight is no different, with the outcome centered around better pay and conditions for women and men competing in the UFC. It is inevitable that Paul will eventually step into the cage, though his opponent is still yet-to-be-determined.

"I don't know who would make sense right now," Paul says. "But when we get to that bridge and cross it, it will be a big name."

Bellator airing a historic NYE card with Rizin FF


Bellator made a major announcement earlier this week, sharing the details on a Bellator vs. Rizin FF card that will run on New Year's Eve.

This is going to be a phenomenal moment for MMA. Bellator will shine a bright light upon Rizin FF, a premier Japanese MMA organization. It also comes at an enormous risk. When the five Bellator fighters step into the four-sided ring at Saitama Super Arena in Japan on December 31, they need to win.

Scott Coker, who is Bellator CEO, is taking a high-stakes gamble with this card. Will the risk be worth the reward?

It is a great look for Bellator if they finish the night 5-0, 4-1, or even 3-2. But it is a different look if Rizin FF wins four of those five fights. Those who follow closely know that Rizin FF champions are world-class, especially in grappling, but there will be an easy narrative for those looking to diminish Bellator if they have a poor showing.

It is imperative that Patricio "Pitbull" Freire and A.J. McKee both win their respective fights. They represent two of Bellator's most significant stars, and though their opponents (Kleber Koike Erbst will fight "Pitbull," while Roberto de Souza fights McKee) are not well known in the United States, they are extremely dangerous mixed martial artists.

Coker is creating a platform to generate interest for his fighters, and it is their job to win. It should all make for a spectacular evening, and must-see viewing for fight fans.

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