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Al Iaquinta may be on his way back to the UFC after ‘tough’ adjustment to day job

Al Iaquinta made the surprise move to retire from MMA in 2016, but it looks like retirement is not going to last long.

Few things make a fighter more hesitant than asking about retirement. And for many, it’s not so much the act that seems to bother them, but the thought of “What if I want to start fighting again? What will people think if I say I’m retired, and then I come back to fighting?” It seems like Al Iaquinta may be about to find out.

UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby recently posted on Twitter that fans may expect “Ragin’ Al” back in the Octagon in the near future.

So what may be prompting Iaquinta’s return? There may be a couple clues in his recent interview with Submission Radio, where the Serra-Longo fighter talked about his adjustment to the real estate business:

“It’s tough,” Iaquinta admitted. “I don’t know. I definitely would rather be fighting. It’s pretty hard when you’re fighting in front of thousands of people or whatever, and then you’re working in the office. But I gotta be honest, as far as my health goes, this is probably the healthiest I’ve been in a while. No injuries and I’m not going home every day with neck nagging, pain, stuff like that. So that’s definitely a good part. I miss a lot of it, but a lot of it I don’t miss. And I feel like I’m kind of saving myself. I don’t know. It’s not been easy, but I know I’m doing the right thing for right now. I’m going out to Denver this weekend to see Aljo (Aljamain Sterling) and I’m sure I’ll see a couple of people from the UFC and maybe we’ll have a conversation, maybe we won’t. But I definitely miss fighting, that’s for sure. I definitely miss fighting.”

And it appears that that desire to fight again may be winning out over the enjoyment of being healthy. As Iaquinta said, he’d be making his way to Denver and UFC on FOX 23 this weekend and if things went well “get back in there soon.”

“I don’t even know if it’s that I was fighting for what I believe in,” Iaquinta said when asked about the potential of re-opening negotiations with the UFC. “I just kind of… I’m thinking for right now, I was hurting, my body was hurting a lot, I was not getting paid a lot, I got hurt. I felt like I was kind of hung out dry for a little bit. So I took a little break and see, you know, maybe the Real Estate thing is what I wanna do, maybe it’s not. It’s just… it’s tough. It’s not like I took a stand. And a lot of people made it that and I guess maybe I was kind of doing it, but I just really didn’t feel like fighting in New York in November for what the conditions were, for the guy that I was fighting, for the amount of money I was fighting for, the amount of money that that event was bringing in just didn’t feel right to me. It didn’t make sense to me to fight for what I was gonna fight for.

“So I asked them if we could talk about renegotiating something and I basically got cursed out,” Iaquinta continued. “So yeah, I just went on, did my own thing and that’s it. They’re running a business, I’m running a business. That’s all it is. I gotta look out for my health though. That’s the first thing. When I’m going to a training camp and I’m flying people in and I can’t sleep good at night because my neck’s hurting. You know, I had two knee surgeries and then I take a year off and I’m asking them, ‘can I do appearances? Anything I can do? I realize I can only get paid when I fight. I realize I only get sponsorships when I fight, but is there anything I can do when I’m out?’. And they were really just like, ‘when you’re ready to fight, let us know’. So I don’t know. We’ll see. Hopefully I get back in there soon. I’m still in shape, I’m still hungry, still ready to go if there’s a right fight that makes sense. I don’t know. I haven’t really talked to anybody. I’ll talk to my manager when we go out to Denver and we’ll kind of sit down and see where we’re at.”

According to Sean Shelby, the results of that trip to Denver seem to have worked out pretty well. So, what’s next?