Al Iaquinta is brimming with confidence ahead of his rematch with Kevin Lee at UFC on FOX 31, but the former title challenger will be careful not to underestimate ‘The Motown Phenom’ on fight night.
Speaking to Damon Martin of MMA Weekly ahead of Saturday’s headlining bout at Fiserv Forum, ‘Raging Al’ acknowledged that Lee has improved a lot since their first matchup in 2014.
“I do remember him being tough, strong, young and inexperienced,” Iaquinta said about Lee. “I remember him in the back he looked out of place but trying to look tough. He was grilling me kind of amateurish. Kind of new to the game but a young, hungry kid. He’s come a long way. He’s very seasoned now. He’s bigger and stronger now and more experienced now.”
With that said, Iaquinta hasn’t seen much evolution in Lee’s striking game and is confident that he is on ‘another level’ on the feet.
“He’s very outmatched with his striking,” Iaquinta said. “He’s very stiff on his feet. He’s not smooth. It’s not something that you can really fix. He’s got a long reach that can kind of cover for the mistakes that he makes but I’ve fought against the best of the best.
“I’m just on another level as far as the striking. I think mentally I’m on a different level.”
In fact, Iaquinta thinks he is better than Lee in all departments and predicts a ‘great night’ on December 15.
“I think I’m better than him everywhere,” Iaquinta stated. “He might be bigger and stronger but the longer this fight goes, the better it is for me. Technically, I think I’m just way more sound than he is. I’m a veteran. I’ve put in the time, I’ve put in the work.
“It’s going to be a great night for me.”
The last time Iaquinta stepped into the Octagon was for a short notice lightweight title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223, which the native New Yorker lost via unanimous decision.
Lee, 26, last fought at UFC Fight Night 128, where the NCAA Division II wrestler battered Edson Barboza in the main event. The Las Vegas-based fighter is currently ranked in the top-four at lightweight and has proven to be a serious contender in one of the most competitive divisions.
UFC on FOX: Lee vs. Iaquinta takes place this Saturday, Dec. 15 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.