Al Iaquinta has no interest in playing the UFC’s game.
The top-ranked lightweight expressed his frustration with mixed martial arts’ leading promotion in a new interview with Submission Radio.
“I’m focused on fighting for sure, but I’m not focused on the nonsense and the politics and the drama,” he expressed. “I’m focused on freaking punching people and taking them down and ground and pound and submission. That’s the stuff I’m focused on, my craft. Not this garbage politics that’s going on. That turns me off big time. But I am focused on real estate because I don’t really hold much water to the conversations we’ve been having. And the way things go, I just kind of… you get a little bit of faith and they just take it right away from you.”
If Iaquinta has his way, fans should expect to see him in the Octagon before the summer: “End of April, beginning of May. I think May is probably the best option. I think May would be great. So, well see what happens.”
A fight that makes sense for Iaquinta is Tony Ferguson, but nothing about Ferguson makes sense.
“He’s definitely not too bright. That’s a weird dude. That’s one weird individual. So, I don’t know what he thinks about, but I think it would be a good fight,” said Iaquinta.
He believes Ferguson’s “cardio” and “wild man” style are his best attributes, “but I’m way more seasoned, way more polished... I refuse nothing less than knocking out Tony Ferguson if that fight gets made. You know, as dumb as he is, maybe the smartest thing is not to fight me for him, that’s for sure.”
Iaquinta believes the UFC’s original plan was to match him up with Dustin Poirier at UFC 236 with Max Holloway vs. Tony Ferguson as the headliner. “But then out of nowhere I heard that it was gonna be Dustin and Max, and then about two minutes later I see it’s also over Twitter, and I don’t know,” said Iaquinta. “It is what it is.”
So why did he tweet requesting his UFC release?
“I just got a little crazy at the airport, had a couple of drinks,” he confessed. “Then I got on Twitter and I see that he’s (Dustin’s) complaining and whatever. So, I’m just like, dude, it’s very easy, let’s just fight each other. But he held out, and I guess whatever happened with Tony, he didn’t take the fight. So, it’s Max and Dustin now.”
UFC fans, fighters, and the media have criticized the promotion’s matchmaking as of late.
“I sent out a few text messages to the matchmakers and said, what are we doing? I need like a plan, you know, when you want me to fight, where you want me to fight, kind of like structure the next couple of weeks and months of my life,” Iaquinta said. “Because if you’re gonna come to me with like four weeks left and asking me to take a fight, that’s not the way it’s really done. And it started to seem like that’s the way it’s becoming.”
“They’re scrambling for fights, they need fights, fights are falling off, and they have a million cards lined up. Every interim champion is now not an interim champion, they’re fighting above a weight class,” he continued. “It’s getting out of control. Now the belts don’t mean anything. The old UFC belt meant something. So, maybe that’s why they created this new belt that just doesn’t mean anything.”
Iaquinta is coming off a marquee win and Performance of the Night award thanks to a unanimous decision over Kevin Lee at UFC Milwaukee.