Allen dropped a closely-contested unanimous decision against Evloev at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Jan. 20. The bout also came with a little controversy. While Allen outlanded his opponent by eight significant strikes, he also surrendered five takedowns and more than three minutes of control time. Still, Allen believes he did enough to get the nod.
“Everyone’s saying that I won Round 1 and Round 3. I agree. That’s what I felt too. I felt after Round 1, I was like, ‘Yup, won that one.’ Round 2, I f—-d that one up. And Round 3, that was mine. Very, very, very, very, very frustrating. Not the way I wanted to start things off [in 2024]...I just felt like I deserved to win that. I don’t want to be bitching and moaning or anything like that. I have no ill will against his team or the opponent. I watched it back a few times. I wanted to watch it back before I gave a video saying how I felt...Yeah, I felt like I got one and three just on the base that everyone else said it, and that’s what I felt immediately after.”
Allen appeared close to securing a finish in the final frame as he visibly hurt Evloev with repeated knees to the head. However, the knees were deemed illegal by referee Marc Goddard, who called a pause to the action, potentially saving Evloev from being finished. The stoppage was controversial as many deemed the knees legal considering Evloev’s hand on the ground was not weight-bearing. While Allen considers Goddard to be a great third man, he also believes the veteran made a mistake.
“With about three minutes left in the round, I fired off some knees, and in the moment I believe they were legal,” he said. “I asked the rules backstage, and there was nothing to clarify. Marc Goddard is getting a lot of flack for his call, but when he came in and said he was reffing, me, my coach, and my manager we were very happy. And I still think he’s one of the best refs out there. I believe he made a mistake, and you know, it’s a tough one.
“I do feel I was on to a sequence where I was about to set up a finish. My opponent was really hurt. The way he sat down, the way he was reacting from the knees. His hand was off even with the rule. Every knee that landed his hand was in the air. I lifted him up, knee; I lifted him up, knee; I lifted him up, knee. Even with that hand-down, hand-up rule, they were all legal. Then also it’s palm on the ground, a weight-bearing palm, not fingertips. So at the minimum, it was fingertips when I lifted him up, and it wasn’t weight-bearing. It was just poking the floor open the floor. Yeah, I do believe I would have set up a finish from there.”