By Daniel Clark, follow on Twitter @18DanielClark.
Al Iaquinta born April 30, 1987 is an American mixed martial artist. Iaquinta has made a name for himself fighting for the Ring of Combat promotion and his participation on FX’s The Ultimate Fighter: Live. He is currently signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), fighting in their lightweight division.
Iaquinta stands 5’9 and has a record of 5 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw. All but one of his bouts have taken place in the Ring of Combat. Al fights out of Serra-Longo Fight Team in New York and is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Matt Serra.
Iaquinta was one of 32 lightweight fighters announced by the UFC to participate in the first live season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Iaquinta advanced into the TUF house by defeating Jon Tuck by unanimous decision after one round. Afterwards, he was chosen as first pick for Team Faber.
After his team lost the first two matches, Iaquinta earned the first win for Team Faber by defeating Myles Jury via split decision after three rounds.
In the quarter-finals, Iaquinta fought Team Faber teammate, Andy Ogle. Iaquinta won via TKO in the closing moments of round one. The win advanced Iaquinta into the semi-finals where he would face Team Cruz’s Vinc Pichel.
Iaquinta defeated Pichel via unanimous decision after two rounds, and moved onto the finals against teammate Michael Chiesa.
Iaquinta officially made his UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale on June 1, 2012 against Michael Chiesa to determine the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Live.
Iaquinta lost to Chiesa by rear-naked choke early in the first round.
How did you get into MMA and could you tell us about your background?
I wrestled in high school and in junior college. I did a little boxing during wrestling season, just as another workout to keep my weight down.
I was very focused on wrestling until I went down to a gym that one of my friends was going to. I was a better wrestler then the guys there but when I grappled I got tapped out, when I did some sparring I got leg kicked. When I tried to kick the guy back I hurt my foot. I told myself after that day that I would make it a point to learn and become proficient in MMA and in doing so I fell in love with the sport.
How did you find your time on TUF, what was the experience like?
My time on TUF was awesome. It was a great experience. I went in not knowing what to expect, thinking it was going to be miserable, but it wasn’t. Everyone in the house was cool, the training with team AlphaMale was great, the food was great. Most of all the chance to fight on national TV and win a UFC contract was a great opportunity.
How much did it affect you, only having a week to prepare for a bout?
It definitely affected me. It was tough to acclimate to society and take care of media obligations while preparing to fight.
I had to talk to all of my friends and family and answer all of their questions about the show. Once let out of the house the flood gates opened and the and the amount of interviews that I was required to do was somewhat overwhelming.
Mike and I were in the same boat and I’m sure it affected him just as much.
How do think you would do against Chiesa with a full camp to prepare?
Who knows, I would like to think the outcome would be very different and I would win. Maybe one day down the line we will find out hopefully for a title or a big payday or something.
How close are you now with the fellow TUF competitors?
We all have a certain respect for each other. All 16 of us went through those grueling 13 weeks together and that created a special bond between us. We all keep in contact especially on twitter.
Who has been your toughest opponent in your career?
There have been a bunch of tough opponents in my career. Will Martinez is someone I fought as an amateur and a pro, we had wars both fights. Vince Pichel was very tough as well.
When do you expect to get back in the Octagon?
I think its great for kids to train in MMA. I train a bunch of kids and I see them all develop confidence in themselves. In a world where bullying in school is having confidence in yourself is important. They also become more discipline. The most important thing is that they are being active instead of sitting around playing video games.
I don’t believe in kids competing. I think it is beneficial for kids to spar in a very controlled environment with proper equipment. When they reach the the age of 16-17 certain individualls are ready for competition.
What has been your favourite moment in your career so far?
There has been a couple moments that really stick out.In my third pro fight I had a 13 second knockout. There is really nothing better then coming out with a knockout victory without taking a punch and going to the after party with not a sratch on my face.
The entire season of The Ultimate Fighter was a highlight in my career I will never forget. The great experience and all the great people I met while I was out there as well as the opportunity I was given to further my career.
What do you like to do outside of MMA, do you play any other sports?
Outside of MMA I enjoy my summers at the beach. Nothing better than hanging at the beach, swimming, boogie boarding and drinking a few cold beers.
I can longboard a little, but while I was on TUF I had told myself I was going to really learn how to surf this summer, I musta jinxed myself by saying that because I tore cartilage in my knee fighting on the show and had to have surgery. No surfing for me this summer!
Thank you for your time, is there anything else you would like to add and would you like to thank anybody
@ALIAQUINTA – Follow me on twitter!!!
I would also like to thank Team Serra/Longo, Team AlphaMale, everyone in Wantagh, Long Island and McCanns Bar n Grill in Massepequa for all the continued support!!!