To meet him, one would never suspect Ryan Allen of being a cage fighter.
His quick smile and quiet disposition seem out of place in a mixed martial arts world of broken noses and multiple tattoos.
But make no mistake, Allen is a hardcore competitor through and through.
Raised in Sicamous, Allen currently trains out of Gracie Barra Salmon Arm and Gracie Barra Vernon and he will be stepping into the octagon for the sixth time on Feb. 16 in Penticton.
With a record of 4-1, Allen will be putting his Battlefield Fight League Amateur Middleweight title on the line when he meets Jared Revel.
Allen burst onto the provincial MMA scene in May 2011 when he won his first cage fight by technical knock-out in less than 20 seconds.
Although he started fighting at 205 pounds, the journeyman carpenter has since dropped to the 185-pound division.
“There were tougher fights at 185,” Allen said of the drop. “I would rather fight a tougher opponent so I dropped down a weight class. I think I’m better suited at that weight.”
Allen, who holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, got into MMA because he wanted to be tested.
“I just like to compete,” he said, adding he has always thought MMA was cool, so when he got into Jiu-jitsu, competing in MMA was a natural step. “You want to push yourself.”
Under the coaching of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belts Mario Deveault and Dave Rothwell, Allen has been working on his stand-up skills as well as his ground game.
Deveault, who operates Gracie Barra clubs in Salmon Arm, Grindrod and Vernon also has years of experience in striking martial arts.
“I am very confident that for anyone in Battlefield (Fight League) Ryan will be a very tough fight,” said Deveault. “He’s very confident in his stand-up abilities, and so am I. He is comfortable in every area of the fight: on the ground, against the cage, standing up. That makes him a tough opponent. He is very well rounded.”
With several fights under his belt, Allen says he now has a better understanding of the game.
“With experience comes confidence. You know what to expect going in there,” he said. “You get hit in the face a few times; it’s part of what you’re doing.”
Deveault said Allen continues to evolve as a fighter and works hard between battles.
“He’s always improving and he likes to mix things up a bit and try different things,” said Deveault.