You’re unlikely to find a more honest fighter in the UFC than Al Iaquinta. If you ask him, he’s going to tell you exactly what he thinks about pretty much anything. The outspoken lightweight has admitted to trashing hotel rooms, discussed the downsides of the Reebok deal and the financial barriers of being a fighter, and even given yours truly a dose of his own brutal honesty a time or two.
He has also made it clear that he has major issues with his UFC contract, which led him to retire briefly from the sport. He decided to enter the real estate game, and has apparently had some success so far. But apparently the itch to fight was still there, so he is scheduled to return to the cage when he faces Diego Sanchez in April.
In a recent interview on The MMA Hour, in typical Iaquinta fashion, he was extremely straightforward about why he’s back, how his contract situation still “sucks”, and shares his issues with how his fight with Sanchez was announced.
According to him, he had just spoken to his manager about accepting the Sanchez bout around the day before, and hadn’t signed a contract yet. But while he was doing a fan Q&A, he saw the fight announcement pop up on a TV there. This wasn’t exactly ideal for him, but he’s okay with it overall:
“There’s no contract signed or nothing. They just announced the fight. Why would you do that? But I do want the fight and I think it’s a good idea.”
That doesn’t mean his contract situation has changed – he feels like it’s not up to snuff. But a conversation with matchmaker Sean Shelby, who he bumped into at a hotel bar, did make him feel like he was wanted at least:
“I’m still not happy with the contract, but what the hell am I gonna do?” Iaquinta said. “Just sit here and do nothing? I gotta do something. I’ve gotta at least fight. Nothing is gonna change. It is what it is. It sucks.”
“I had a good talk with those guys,” Iaquinta said. “I was like, surprised. They really wanted me to fight. They basically told me to pick whoever I wanted to fight.
“At least they made me feel appreciated, I guess. I felt like they want me to fight again.”
Names that made his list of acceptable fights were Conor McGregor (obviously) at lightweight, along with Thiago Alves and Kevin Lee at 170. In the end, he took the Sanchez fight.
He’s still not sure if he’ll continue as a full-time fighter after this though. He admitted to not being as obsessed with the sport anymore, and with the real estate thing in play, he’s just wanting to have some fun in Nashville against Sanchez.
“I said I was as close to retirement as possible,” Iaquinta said. “I was pretty f—king close. And I don’t know if I’m still fighting. Who the f—k knows what’s gonna happen? I don’t know.”
Iaquinta and Sanchez meet at UFC Fight Night 108 on April 22nd.
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