Both competitors fought Nurmagomedov, the UFC lightweight champion, this year, but under circumstances that were as different as could possibly be.
Iaquinta challenged Nurmagomedov on 24 hours’ notice at UFC 223, stepping up after Max Holloway was pulled from the bout in Brooklyn due to weight-cut issues. While the bout wasn’t a title fight, as Iaquinta weighed in above the championship limit previously for a scheduled fight with Paul Felder, Iaquinta went the distance and put a scare into the champion in the final round with a spirited effort.
McGregor, meanwhile, was outclassed for a fight in which he had a nine-week training camp before submitting in the fourth round at UFC 229.
And in Iaquinta’s mind, that puts him ahead of the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion in the race for a rematch with the champ.
“I’m the guy who if he wants to get a rematch, I’m the guy,” Iaquinta said. “No immediate rematch for him, he tapped out. I took it like man on a week’s notice, he had all the time in the world to prepare, and he wanted a way out.”
In case he hadn’t made his point clearly enough, he made sure to punctuate it “Raging Al”-style.
“I’m the f*cking guy in this division.”