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Welcome to the UFC: Allen Crowder

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A heavyweight Contender Series standout kicks off the card at UFC 218.

On a card full of legends and veterans, only one man will make the long walk to the Octagon for the first time. This former football star and bouncer turned fighter has rocketed his way up the southeast heavyweight rankings and earned a UFC roster spot only three years in to his pro career. So who is the UFC’s newest big man? Read on to find out if this “Pretty Boy” is more than just a pretty face.

Who is Allen Crowder?

28-year-old North Carolina native Allen Crowder earned his UFC debut by beating the heavily-favored Don’tale Mayes on the final episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Crowder gave up 20 pounds and four inches to larger Mayes, but his conditioning and durability gave him the tools needed to drag the big man into deep waters and pick up the TKO in the third. Prior to the Contender Series, Crowder picked up a win in Bellator and lost a tough bout to top heavyweight Curtis Blaydes, a fight he wants back badly. Crowder’s home gym is Team Rubao Carioca BJJ in Mebane, NC, where he is a blue belt in BJJ. He also spent time in this training camp working with Henri Hooft’s Hard Knocks 365 fight team in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

What should you expect?

Crowder is a converted football player and it is evident in his style. He’s athletic and in great shape, but still very green in every aspect, only fighting professionally for three years. At 6’2” and 240 pounds, he will be on the smaller side of the heavyweight spectrum. At times this has worked in his favor, dragging the less-conditioned big men into deep waters. But now that he’s in the UFC, and the chances of him running into a poorly conditioned fighter are minimal. Not to say Crowder won’t be successful in the UFC, but he will be growing a lot in his first couple fights and it will be interesting to see how he adapts.

What does this mean for his debut?

Crowder is matched up with AKA’s Justin Willis who is coming off of a debut decision victory over the UK’s James Mulheron. “Pretty Boy” and “Big Pretty” will be battling for the unofficial title of prettiest man in the heavyweight division. Willis is not an ideal opponent for Crowder’s debut - his smaller stature gives him a lower center of gravity making him a difficult man to take down. On top of that he trains with cardio freak wrestlers Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, making a battle of attrition a low percentage path to victory. Crowder will clinch Willis against the cage early and lose steam when the take downs do not materialize. Willis will win the standup battle with his southpaw striking and take home his second W in the octagon. Willis, Unanimous Decision

Check out Crowder’s grueling battle on the Contender Series: