While Khabib Nurmagomedov scored a convincing unanimous decision win over Al Iaquinta at last weekend’s (Sat., April 7, 2018) UFC 223 pay-per-view (PPV) event in Brooklyn, N.Y. (see it), “Ragin’” showed the combat world he wasn’t going in there on short notice just to get a participation trophy.
He was going for the big prize.
Known for smothering his opponents with a relentless attack, Khabib stuck to his usual gameplan in order to secure his first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) world title. And if you are one of those outsider’s looking in who wasn’t impressed, Al has some words for you.
“He’s an animal, he’s different. There are few guys that feel that heavy on top of you. He was on top of me and I felt it, he was strong for sure. He was talking to Serra, and telling him ‘Good job, great advice,’ We had a great time, it was fun,” said Al during a recent interview on The MMA Hour.
While many critics — this one included — blasted Khabib for not finishing Iaquinta, Al says people need to realize Nurmagomedov also had his work cut out for him if he wanted a stoppage victory.
“He didn't exert all his energy because he knew he was going to have to kill me to finish me. And if he didn’t finish me he was going to gas himself out,” he added. “Five rounds is a long fight and he knew that. He definitely respected me. People always wonder if I’m that good. I come to fight, there is a reason why guys don’t look good against me. People feel something in there, it’s a vibe, an energy, I am not fucking going anywhere,” he added.
“You can say what you want, but at the end of the day I went in there to win that fight and he knew it. If he made one mistake I was going to take his head off.”
Indeed, Al earned some newfound respect from not only fans and his peers, but from the organization as a whole. Which is rather refreshing as Iaquinta and UFC haven’t had the best relationship in the past.
“We definitely got a (pay) bump. There is a time for negotiating and holding out, and then there is go time, you know what I mean? That was an opportunity that was brought to me and it was just go time,” he added while revealing he didn't want to worry about numbers until after the fight.
“I told my manager Dave to take care of it, my trust is in him. I told him to let me know after the fact, I didn’t even want to think bout it, I just wanted to think about fighting this guy. That’s how it worked. I just said let’s go,’ he said. “For the fight, it was good, I really had a great with with UFC, they treated me well aside from printing everything (my name) wrong. I enjoyed it. That whole thing, the UFC staff is so cool because they realize what you’re going through,” he concluded.
As for what’s next for “Ragin’” Al, he will heal up from a busted up face, win a few fights and figure out how to beat “The Russian.” Something he would love the chance to do on a full camp.