Iaquinta told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he was doing a Q&A session with fans when the announcement flashed across a nearby TV screen.
“Raging Al” was pretty surprised, since he didn’t sign a contract and had just agreed to fight Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 108 on April 22 in Nashville on the phone with his manager maybe a day earlier.
“There’s no contract signed or nothing,” Iaquinta said. “They just announced the fight. Why would you do that? But I do want the fight and I think it’s a good idea.”
Iaquinta, 29, said last year that he was all but retired after he felt like the money in his contract to fight Thiago Alves at UFC 205 in November was not enough. Iaquinta got his real-estate license and continues to work in that field. The Long Island native told Helwani on Monday that he still doesn’t like the numbers in his contract, but has gotten antsy and wants to fight again.
“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.”
Iaquinta (12-3-1) said he agreed to return after bumping into UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby at a hotel bar last month in Denver. Both were in town for UFC on FOX 23. Iaquinta was there for his Serra-Longo teammate Aljamain Sterling’s fight against Raphael Assuncao.
“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.”
Iaquinta said Conor McGregor was on the top of his list and he was also interested in taking on Alves at welterweight, since the Brazilian striker moved back up to that division. Kevin Lee at 170 was also one of his picks, because a small cut to welterweight was preferable over lightweight, Iaquinta said.
Ultimately, Sanchez was offered to him and Iaquinta accepted it, because Sanchez is a big name, an exciting fighter and he thinks he matches up well against him, Iaquinta said.
Iaquinta said he’s starting to make money in real-estate business and wants to continue doing that. Going back to fight is part of his “plan,” he said. So is getting the UFC to pay some medical bills he believes they owe him.
“I’m doing good with the real-estate stuff,” Iaquinta said. “It’s kind of making some money. I’m just having a good time. I want to get in there and fight. I don’t know.”
“Raging Al” did add that he wasn’t going to be as obsessed with fighting anymore. No more staying up and not sleeping, thinking only about the fight game. Those days are gone.
Iaquinta plans on showing up to Nashville, cutting some weight, and just “having fun” against Sanchez. MMA is just part of his life now, not the entire thing. And it seems like he’s still kind of on the fence about everything.
“I said I was as close to retirement as possible,” Iaquinta said. “I was pretty f*cking close. And I don’t know if I’m still fighting. Who the f*ck knows what’s gonna happen? I don’t know.”