Imagine his surprise on Saturday night when the promotion announced the lightweight matchup during the UFC Vegas 35 fight card.
UFC 268 is set to take place Nov. 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York, which is in Iaquinta’s home state. The pairing was first scheduled to meet at in July 2015 before Green suffered a torn ACL.
Now that the fight is targeted to take place this fall, Iaquinta is very excited about facing a longtime veteran of the sport.
“That’s a fight that’s really intriguing to me,” Iaquinta said on Wednesday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “He’s got a one-of-a-kind style and he’s been around forever. I like fights like that, with a guy that’s been around for a while, he’s got his own style and it’s gonna be a fun fight.”
While Green’s style has Iaquinta smiling, the way the UFC made the bout announcement certainly did not. “Raging” is looking to snap a two-fight skid in his first fight in over two years and revealed he hadn’t put pen to paper as of yet.
“I was kind of disappointed that they announced the fight the way that they did because they asked my manager about the fight and I was like, ‘Yeah, we’ll take the fight, but I’ve been out for a while and there’s a few things with my contract that are unclear,’” Iquinta explained. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of Sean Shelby and Hunter [Campbell] for the last week and a half, two weeks, and I haven’t really heard back from them.
“It’s just some stuff I wanted to clear up, my last fight was in Australia [against Dan Hooker at UFC 243] and there were a few things in the contract that were up in the air and we’ve just got to get that sorted out.”
After picking up victories in five straight fights, Iaquinta—with the help from the Conor McGregor dolly incident prior to UFC 223—got the opportunity to fight for the vacant UFC lightweight title in April 2018, where he lost a five-round unanimous decision. The 34-year-old bounced back with a decision win over Kevin Lee at UFC on FOX 31 eight months later, but has since suffered back-to-back decision losses to Hooker and Donald Cerrone.
When he awoke from a nap due to a vigorous training schedule on Saturday, we awoke to a slew of messages about his fight with Green that he didn’t think was done to the point where that kind of reaction was necessary.
“I was watching the fights on Saturday and I fell asleep watching them,” Iaquinta said. “I woke up and looked at my phone and I had 9,000 messages — Instagram this and Twitter that. I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ And then I’m seeing they announced the fight. I was like, ‘What the f*ck? I haven’t signed a contract yet.’
“I hate when they do that because they’ve done this to me once before and it’s really not the right thing to do. It bothers me a lot, especially since they know I’ve been trying to get a hold of them. But I’m sure it will get taken care of.”
The last 20-plus months for Iaquinta have been spent trying to heal up and take care of lingering injuries, even revealing that in 2020, he had multiple surgeries in a week, one on his nose, and a more major one that hoped to heal a long-term issue.
“Over the last two years, I’ve spent so much time, energy and money to get to this point where I’m able to fight again and I’m looking forward [to it] and feeling good to fight,” Iaquinta stated. “I had two surgeries in a week about a year ago. My knee [is something] I’ve always had problems with and the doctor said there was some scar tissue in there, so they wanted to go in and take that scar tissue out. I got a second opinion, he said to do some injections, physical therapy, so I did all that for six months and it was still giving me pain.
“I ended up getting the surgery. It took forever for me to start feeling good again, but because it had been so long, I was overcompensating, so it was the hip, the back. I was not doing good. It was not fun.”
With everything Iaquinta has gone through physically and mentally on his road back to competition, he couldn’t help but feel a little betrayed by the UFC for making, in his eyes, a premature fight announcement.
“It kind of hurt me a little bit,” Iaquinta said. “It left a bad taste in my mouth. But it kind of motivated me. F*ck everybody. What the f*ck is that sh*t?”