UFC LONG ISLAND | THEN AND NOW

Al Iaquinta

Wantagh | 10 UFC fights

There are times when UFC lightweight fighter Al Iaquinta gets recognized by a potential home buyer. Not so much because they’ve seen him in the Home Smart Realty office or his face in an ad, but more so from the years spent knocking people out inside the UFC’s octagon.

“‘Hey, you’re that fighter guy,'” Iaquinta said in describing what clients say. “It’s funny when that happens. It’s a talking point. If anything, it helps.”

One night last March inside Longo and Weidman MMA in Garden City where he trains, the 30-year-old Iaquinta opened the calculator app on his phone. Time for some quick math. Give or take a couple of bucks, if Iaquinta sells four “middle class” homes on Long Island, he would earn approximately the same as the $26,000 show money the UFC was paying him to fight Diego Sanchez in April at UFC Nashville. Iaquinta won that fight by knockout in 98 seconds, so he also earned another $26,000 in win money. That’s eight houses to be sold and zero punches to the head or kicks to the body to be received.

Iaquinta wasn’t awarded one of the four performance bonuses by the UFC that night, which would have sent Iaquinta back to Long Island with another $50,000. That didn’t sit well with the man they call “Ragin’ Al.” He put his feelings into words – a few of them choice, too – on social media that night. Naturally, they became headlines that night and the next day.

Iaquinta followed it up with an explosive interview that Monday on MMAFighting.com’s “The MMA Hour.”

“The whole bonus thing is just ridiculous,” Iaquinta said in that interview about how the UFC rewards top performers on fight night. “The fact that they’re giving $50,000 bonuses, it’s like their little way to control everybody.

“I don’t understand how everyone just thinks that’s normal, $50,000 bonus. A bonus is like a little something extra. Fifty-thousand dollars is like three times some of these guys’ pay. That’s not a bonus. That’s like life-changing stuff. And oh, it looks great. But guess what? That’s their little way to control you.”

Much else of what he had to say isn’t printable here. But it had people talking … and laughing … and writing.

It also helped turn “Ragin’ Al” into something of an instant favorite among MMA fans. There’s something about hearing a person hammer their bosses about money and other perceived injustices that resonates with the everyman. The little guy standing up to the big bad wolf without fear. MMA fans, as highly critical a group as any in sports, always appreciate a good laugh. Iaquinta provided that.

He also has provided some sparks in the octagon. Iaquinta won his last five fights dating to 2014, including knockouts of Sanchez, Joe Lauzon, Ross Pearson and Rodrigo Damm. He won a split decision over Jorge Masvidal.

A knee injury, combined with his contract dispute, kept Iaquinta out of the octagon for two years before the Sanchez fight.

Will he fight again? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends on how he feels.

He said recently that he might try to get onto the next card at Madison Square Garden, believed to be this November although not officially announced by the UFC. Iaquinta was supposed to fight Thiago Alves on the first MSG card last November, but he decided not to sign the bout agreement because of monetary concerns.

Instead, Iaquinta went about his way in the real estate world.

“I’m grinding,” Iaquinta said, “and it’s gonna pay off.”

AL IAQUINTA’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
June 1, 2012 Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale Michael Chiesa Lost by submission, Round 1, 2:47
Aug. 31, 2013 UFC 164 Ryan Couture Won by unanimous decision
Oct. 26, 2013 UFC Manchester Piotr Hallman Won by unanimous decision
Feb. 1, 2014 UFC 169 Kevin Lee Won by unanimous decision
May 24, 2014 UFC 173 Mitch Clarke Lost by submission, Round 2, 0:57
Sept. 5, 2014 UFC Uncasville Rodrigo Damm Won by KO, Round 3, 2:41
Nov. 7, 2014 UFC Sydney Ross Pearson Won by KO, Round 2, 1:39
Jan. 31, 2015 UFC 183 Joe Lauzon Won by KO, Round 2, 3:34
April 4, 2015 UFC Fairfax Jorge Masvidal Won by split decision
April 22, 2017 UFC Nashville Diego Sanchez Won by KO, Round 1, 1:43

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez gregor gillespie al iaquinta brian kelleher ryan laflare aljamain sterling chris wade chris weidman gian villante

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

luke cummo eddie gordon jay hieron alptekin ozkilic pete sell matt serra

Photographer: Chris Ware