It was a tumultuous fight week headed into the UFC 223, especially for Khabib Nurmagomedov and Al Iaquinta. As “The Eagle” went through three opponent changes, “Ragin’ Al” was called in for the biggest fight of his life with just one days’ notice.
As quite expected by most observers, Khabib ended up winning the fight along with the undisputed UFC lightweight title. But according to Iaquinta, who says he is “100%” on board for a possible rematch against the undefeated Dagestani, things would turn out differently the second time around.
“I think so,” Iaquinta told TMZ Sports when asked if he thought he would beat Khabib in a possible part two. “(At UFC 223), I was fighting in the mindset of trying to go in there just like I (would).”
“A lot of people thought I just had a one-shot chance, and after the first two rounds I kind of went back into that mindset where I was just trying to catch him with one punch, rather than beat him.”
Iaquinta also trusts his overall skillset enough and believes it would have been a much different outcome if he was able to train for Khabib with a full camp.
“My wrestling’s good,” Iaquinta said. “I got in on a deep single-leg, and I almost think I should’ve tried to finish it. But I pulled out and started punching because I wanted to get that knockout shot.”
“(If) I’m in shape for five rounds, and I am able to really let it go and exert myself with the wrestling exchanges and scrambles, I think it (will be) a totally different fight.”
Entering the fight against Khabib, Iaquinta (13-4-1, with eight wins by stoppage) was on a five-fight win streak. He last fought in Nashville a year ago where he knocked out fellow TUF alum Diego Sanchez in the first round.