On just one day’s notice, Al Iaquinta took a five-round title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223. This, despite the fact that “Ragin’” had previous stated you’d have to pay him a million dollars in order to step into the cage with “The Eagle.”
Nevertheless, Al did the promotion a solid and stepped up to the plate, going the entire five rounds with one of the most dominant fighters in the division, though he ended up losing a unanimous decision.
Still, Al takes great pride in doing much better than what Conor McGregor did against Khabib on a full camp, as “Notorious” ultimately tapped to “The Eagle” in the fourth round at UFC 229 (see it again here). To hear Iaquinta tell it, Conor fooled people into thinking he actually had something to offer Khabib and once again showed he simply has no heart when the going gets tough.
“You look great and then when the going gets tough or you get a little tired and things don’t go your way, you kind of check out. He pulled the wool over everyone's eyes with all that talk. He built up a great fight and then he shit the bed,” said Iaquinta on The Ariel Helwani MMA Show.
With talks of a potential Khabib and McGregor, Al says his own performance warrants a rematch over Conor. Still, should “Notorious” get another crack at Khabib for obvious financial reasons, it will be a repeat of the first fight, since money can’t buy heart.
“He fought good, definitely has a lot of skills. The rematch is not anything he can fix. You can train to defend takedowns, you can train to get back up, train for a million things. The one thing you can not train is to have heart when shit gets real tough,” he said.
“When you feel like you are about to die, to figure out a way to live and not have the ref pull you off and save you. That is not going to get fixed if they fight in six months or a year or three years. That is still going to be there, that is not changing. His teammates aren’t going to help him in there and all of that money is not going to buy heart. So he can say whatever he wants, I sell real estate, I am number 11, but at the end of the day, he is definitely not tougher than me.”
Iaquinta vs McGregor, anyone?
“Ragin’” will look to jump up a few spots in the title race when he rematches Kevin Lee at the upcoming UFC on FOX 31 event on Dec. 15, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (poster here), which will mark the final FOX-televised event for UFC.