Former Ultimate Fighter runner-up Al Iaquinta has positioned himself a step closer to breaking into the UFC rankings at lightweight following his third consecutive win recently.
Iaquinta topped Kevin Lee earlier this month at UFC 169, improving his overall mark to 8-2-1 – which includes a 3-1 record within the Octagon.
Competing near his home state of New York in New Jersey, Iaquinta’s prelim fight was aired live on the pay-per-view broadcast after the main event.
“It was pretty cool that they showed it,” said Iaquinta, during a recent interview with FightLine. “I got some extra exposure.”
As for the actual fight itself, things went about as the fighter expected. He dominated the first and third rounds, netting himself the unanimous decision verdict.
“I felt really good through the first, he really didn’t have much for me on the feet,” Iaquinta stated. “I don’t think he landed more than one or two shots the whole round.”
UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman could be heard – and seen – Octagon-side cheering on his Serra-Longo teammate. He also offered Iaquinta a few pointers between rounds.
“I saw him and he was giving me little bits of advice,” he said. “I watched the replay of the fight and saw him jumping all over the place.
“Chris has helped me out a ton and having him right there to support me was awesome.”
Lee, who was making his debut, regrouped in the second round after Iaquinta admitted he “got a little too crazy.”
“I felt awesome going into (the second) round, he said. “I was putting it on him a lot in the first minute of the second, I just got a little too crazy and lunged in with a left hook. He timed it perfectly and got the takedown.”
Former UFC champion Matt Serra and Ray Longo made sure to calm the nerves heading into the final five minutes, instructing Iaquinta to victory.
“Ray and Matt always give the best advice in the corner between rounds,” he said. “They told me I needed the round to win the fight, so I went out there and did it.
“I jumped out of the corner to pay him back for that second round.”
Iaquinta was scheduled to meet Anthony Njokuani last October before an injury knocked Njokuani out. That is a fight that still interests the 26-year-old.
“I was really amped at the opportunity when I got the call to fight Anthony,” Iaquinta said. “I have been watching him since back in the WEC. I was bummed when that fight didn’t happen, but I really don’t care who the UFC gives me.”
Iaquinta stated he is already back in the gym and looking towards a late-spring, early-summer return to the Octagon.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale