It’s easy to forget just how much has changed in the UFC since Al Iaquinta last fought there. When he took a split decision off Jorge Masvidal at UFC Fairfax: Mendes vs. Lamas, the Reebok deal had yet to go into effect, USADA testing hadn’t started yet; ‘Raging’ Al’s trunks were emblazoned with a multitude of sponsors as he infamously queried the crowd to find they were, in fact, booing him.
What followed was a cluster-cuss of booking problems for Iaquinta. A bout with Bobby Green had to be scrapped following another in a long string of injuries for “King,” and a replacement fight with Gilbert Melendez fell apart just a week out from the fight when it was revealed that Melendez had failed a drug test after his last turn in the Octagon. With costs sunk in training already, and without a ready opponent on the horizon, Iaquinta elected to get a knee surgery he’d been putting off. Fans haven’t seen him since.
Now it looks like they may be waiting quite a while longer. In a recent interview with Fox Sports, Iaquinta revealed that he won’t be fighting Thiago Alves as planned, at UFC 205. Because, after so many changes and so much time off, his contract just isn’t worth what it used to be:
"I got the contract and I was just looking at it for a couple of days. I was like I just can't sign it. I can't do it," Iaquinta told FOX Sports. "I felt like it wasn't right. I talked to my manager, I said listen I really want to fight in New York. There's nothing I want to do more than fight in New York, but I can't take a pay cut for this fight.
"There's nothing left. I'm fighting for free," Iaquinta said about his guaranteed pay to fight in New York. "God forbid I get injured again and I've got nothing left because I spent it all on the last injury, keeping my head above water. If anything were to happen, there would be nothing left. It scared me. Even if I do win, I'm going to have to fight again in a couple of months. Am I going to be able to walk up a flight of stairs with my kids when I'm older? Am I going to be able to play with them? Probably not. Is it worth this money? No.
"Before these injuries I might have fought for $10 but you see things through a different spectrum. I thought my career was over. I got my personal training, I got my real estate license and I'm living comfortably. I don't need to fight now. If I did take this fight, I would have to stop everything else I was doing and I wouldn't make money and there's got to be some stability. After going through the injury, I thought my career was over. My whole perspective changed. I hope people can learn, this kind of thing can happen and I hope they see what happened to me. It can happen. It was definitely a scary scenario."
There’s a lot more in the article, including Iquinta’s revelation that after a series of “infractions” he incurred under his UFC contract (including destroying a hotel room), he is no longer eligible for post fight bonuses for his next three bouts. So even if he put on a fight of the year, he’d still be relegated to base pay and nothing more.
UFC 205 goes down on November 12 at Madison Square Garden, it’s expected to include a welterweight title fight between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson, as well as Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum and Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero. Bloody Elbow will keep you updated with more news on the card as it becomes available.