Saturday night justified the wait, as the New York lightweight put in an impressive performance in a unanimous decision win over Ryan Couture at UFC 164. Judges scores at Milwaukee's Bradley Center were 30-27 across the board.
Couture was not without his moments in the fight, particularly in landing kicks and the occasional flying knee. But he had no answer for Iaquinta's sharp boxing throughout the bout and also made his takedown attempts count while stuffing Couture's attempts, en route to the finish.
By the third round, a bloodied and battered Couture was clearly tiring. Iaquinta turned up the heat, but Couture showed heart in sticking it out until the final horn.
"I wanted to do this for team Serra Longo, that's it, man. I hit him pretty hard but he kept coming. I wanted to finish him but I got the decision," Iaquinta said.
Iaquinta improved to 6-2-1 with his first UFC victory. Couture (8-3), who was the subject of much speculation after his father, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, jumped to Viacom and Bellator, dropped his second straight fight.