• The loss to the Hawaiian puts a dent in fourth-ranked Allen's title ambitions.
• Ipswich's Allen came into the bout on the back of a successful 2022 and a 10-fight winning streak, which was the fourth-longest in the UFC among active fighters.
British featherweight Arnold Allen suffered his first UFC defeat as Max Holloway won by unanimous decision in Kansas City, Missouri.
Allen, 29, pushed forward throughout but was expertly countered by former champion Holloway, 31, over five competitive rounds.
The loss to the Hawaiian puts a dent in fourth-ranked Allen's title ambitions.
"Max is one of the best. He's an inspiration to me - I love the man," said Allen.
Ipswich's Allen came into the bout on the back of a successful 2022 and a 10-fight winning streak, which was the fourth-longest in the UFC among active fighters.
Allen stopped Dan Hooker last March and then Calvin Kattar in October in the biggest win of his career.
Following the win over American Kattar, Allen called for an interim title bout as featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski was occupied at the time with a move up to lightweight to fight Islam Makhachev.
His wish was not granted, however, with fellow top lightweight contender Yair Rodriguez beating Josh Emmett for the interim belt in February.
The UFC opted instead to match Allen up with number one-ranked featherweight Holloway, who won the unified title in 2017 and held it for two years, defending it three times.
He was competing in his 27th UFC fight since joining the promotion in 2012 in a stellar career that has yielded 23 wins overall.
Holloway, nicknamed the 'Blessed Express', is one of the most popular fighters on the roster with fans, thanks to a relentless striking approach that has produced a number of exciting bouts over the years.
His last bout, though, was a unanimous decision defeat against Australian Volkanovski in July - an opponent he has lost to three times.
The first round set the tone for the majority of the fight as Allen pushed forward in an attempt to put the usually more aggressive Holloway on the back foot.
Holloway's patient approach was key to victory, as he evaded most of Allen's big shots while countering with fast combinations.
Despite Allen being the aggressor throughout the 25 minutes and finding some success with his crunching overhand left, Holloway was always ahead in significant strikes landed, illustrating his expertise at picking the right moments to fire back at Allen.
Midway through the bout, Holloway also became the first fighter in UFC history to land 3,000 significant strikes.
As the fight wore on, Holloway opened up his attacking arsenal, landing with elbows and spinning back kicks, before Allen's corner told him he needed a finish to win the bout going into the final round.
Allen's pace intensified as the final bell drew nearer, with hooks and overhand strikes opening up a cut below Holloway's right eye, but it wasn't enough to sway the judges.
The pair embraced at the end, with Allen telling Holloway it was "an honour to share the cage" with him.
But it is unclear what comes next for Holloway - as another chance against champion Volkanovski, widely expected to fight Rodriguez next in a unification bout, appears unlikely.
"Arnold hits like a truck. He got me in the last round and blackened my eye. My career is in jeopardy now because of you," joked Holloway.
"[My plan was] to keep tagging him. The dude's durable, he wanted to go all the way and I welcome that.
"Kansas, I love everybody here. But when this beast of a man [Allen] here takes the mic, cheer the man. He deserves it."