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Despite quick KO win, Al Iaquinta unsure of UFC future: ‘I don’t know if it’s worth it’

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Iaquinta vs Sanchez
Al Iaquinta knocked out Diego Sanchez quickly Saturday, but isn’t sure if he wants to fight again.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Al Iaquinta starched Diego Sanchez, one of the UFC’s most durable fighters ever, in just 98 seconds Saturday night in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 108. On a five-fight winning streak, Iaquinta would likely step into the Octagon next against a top contender and he’s probably only one or two wins away from a title shot.

That’s one scenario. Another just as likely scenario: Iaquinta never fighting again.

“Raging Al” made quick work of Sanchez in Nashville after two years away from the cage. But his resentment with the UFC and his contract is lingering. With Iaquinta’s real-estate career on Long Island in bloom, he said afterward that he isn’t sure what his future is in fighting.

“I don’t know if it’s worth it,” Iaquinta said in a post-fight media scrum. “I don't know if the money is worth everything I go through to do this. It worked out tonight, but it’s not gonna be that easy. So I don’t know. I’ve gotta think if it’s worth it. I’ve got a lot of injuries. It’s a lot of years lost that I’m not making any money. And now I’m not making sponsorships. I’m in the video game and I haven’t gotten a dollar from it and I don’t even have an Xbox and they haven’t even sent me a video game.”

Iaquinta (13-3-1) announced his retirement last year and was even unsure as to whether or not he would come back as recently as when the UFC broke the news of his fight with Sanchez.

The Serra-Longo fighter has somewhat of a volatile relationship with the UFC. He doesn’t understand how the UFC can sign an apparel contract with Reebok to be more like the NFL, but still call fighters independent contractors, unlike NFL players, who are employees and part of a union.

There’s a UFC on FOX card coming up in Iaquinta’s native Long Island in July, but Iaquinta isn’t sure if he wants to be on it — at least not under his current contract ($26,000 to show and another $26,000 to win).

“That would be something I’d really love to do,” Iaquinta said. “But I’m not gonna do it for the contract I have now. Probably not. Definitely not for a top opponent. These guys are dangerous. I’m not going in there to get paid what I’m getting paid to get hurt. The chance of an injury, if I’m out for two years, where am I gonna get any money? I got no sponsors. There’s nothing. These last few years have been a wakeup call for me.”

Iaquinta, 29, has four knockouts during this five-fight winning streak. He’s a winner, an exciting fighter and has a ton of charisma — everything the UFC would want in a contender. The pay checks do have a chance to grow, but right now Iaquinta believes he’s not being justly compensated currently.

“I love fighting, but I’m not gonna ruin my body,” Iaquinta said. “This is no game, man. This is for real. [Getting paid $26,000 and $26,000] is not a lot of money. For doing what I’m doing, for being on TV, for me driving the car I’m driving, I gotta be living a lot better than this. I could be doing anything in the world and making the same kind of money. And I don’t have the risk of getting hurt. I don't need to fight now. I have my real-estate career. I’m set with that. So, if I want to fight, I’ll fight.”

“Raging Al” said everything went right Saturday night against Sanchez. He found a home for a big right hand twice and Sanchez, who has rarely been knocked out fully, was just about out cold. It had all the makings of a crowning moment, that big launching pad toward a title shot.

Iaquinta’s primary goal now, though, might be selling a mansion in posh Oyster Bay, not holding up the UFC’s lightweight belt.

“I really enjoy selling the real estate,” Iaquinta said. “I got my fix for fighting for now. I’m good for now. I haven't thought about it. I just thought about tonight. I just wanted to get in there and have fun and that’s exactly what I did.”

Iaquinta didn’t seem to be coming around a few minutes after his post-fight interview when he learned he wasn’t getting a $50,000 post-fight performance bonus, tweeting to the UFC’s account “go f*ck yourself.”

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