(Iaquinta lands on Piotr Hallman during their bout at UFC Fight Night 30 in October. / Photo via Getty)
By Shawn W. Smith
Armed with a thick Long Island accent and a 5-1-1 pro record, Al Iaquinta joined the cast of the first live Ultimate Fighter in 2012. He stormed through the competition, defeating Jon Tuck, Myles Jury, Andy Ogle and Vinc Pichel en route to the finals, where he fell short to Michael Chiesa.
What many thought would be a difficult matchup for him in his next UFC appearance turned out to be his coming out party, as Iaquinta decisively beat on Ryan Couture for three rounds at UFC 164. A follow-up win over Piotr Hallman established him as one of the many lightweight prospects to watch heading into 2014. His wrestling base with heavy hands is not unlike his Serra-Longo teammate Chris Weidman, who Iaquinta looks up to for inspiration in the gym.
At UFC 169, for the third time in six months, Iaquinta will take to the cage. This time he will take on the debuting Kevin Lee. A submission expert by trade, Lee presents some interesting challenge to Iaquinta, whose two professional losses both came by submission.
CagePotato caught up with Iaquinta ahead of his bout at UFC 169 this Saturday to get his thoughts on Lee, The Ultimate Fighter experience, and much more.
CAGEPOTATO.COM: How was your training camp for this fight?
AL IAQUINTA: Training’s been going good, same as usual. I’m here with Ray Longo and Matt Serra and the team, just getting ready. I’m ready to go. I’m chomping at the bit to get in there.
Does the terrible weather we’ve had in the Northeast make things difficult? At 20 degrees below zero, it must be challenging to get up and into the gym.
Yeah, definitely. It makes things a little difficult, but I kind of like it, going through training camp in the snow. It reminds me of wrestling season. If you go out for a run you’re all bundled up and getting through the elements. It kind of makes me feel like I’m in a Rocky movie. I’m thinking of all the things I’m doing to get ready for this fight and if he’s not doing that, it’s a big disadvantage.
When you have these constant camps in succession, three in the past six months, does it make it difficult to improve your skills?