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Al Iaquinta accuses Justin Gaethje of eye-poking Edson Barboza: ‘No one ever said anything’

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Al Iaquinta says not enough people are talking about the moments leading up to Justin Gaethje’s knockout of Edson Barboza.

Al Iaquinta is not all too impressed with Justin Gaethje’s win over Edson Barboza at UFC Philadelphia.

Iaquinta was asked at UFC Ottawa about remarks Gaethje made backstage at UFC 236 in April. Gaethje said Iaquinta was “scared of him,” per MMA Fighting. Iaquinta disagrees with that statement.

“I’m definitely not scared of anybody,” he said at Thursday’s media scrum. “I’m more scared of not fighting for my worth, like some of these guys are working, I’m scared of not managing myself the right way. I’m definitely not scared of fighting anybody.”

He then supported Barboza’s coach’s claims that Gaethje landed an eyepoke prior to beating Barboza at UFC Philadelphia: “He poked Barboza in the eye. No one ever said anything about that. He poked him right in the eye. He’ll be just technical once he gets he gets his ass kicked.”

Iaquinta was announced as treasurer for Project Spearhead in Feb. 2018. The unionization efforts struggled, particularly after Leslie Smith and Kajan Johnson were released from the UFC. The UFC Ottawa headliner touched on the inability to make meaningful change through Project Spearhead.

“It’s a tough thing. I don’t know what it’s going to take. Everyone had their hearts in the right place. It was just getting everyone together is tough. There is a way to get it done we’ll just need to get it done,” he expressed. “It will benefit everyone. Both sides will benefit. Now that other organizations are starting to put up good money. Guys are fighting out their contract and leaving. It would be a good reason for fighters to stay if they have someone bargaining power and had someone representing them.”

Unlike his Spearhead cohorts, Iaquinta has a healthy relationship with the UFC these days.

“I think we have a good working relationship. I have a good rapport with Hunter Campbell and Sean Shelby. They understand me a lot better and I understand what they’re looking for,” he shared. “I’m in a way better place.”

Iaquinta said it was after his short-notice fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov that he noticed a shift in his relationship with the UFC. “I showed them what I was about. Me just constantly putting in a strong body of work,” he said. “I come to fight, the fans appreciate that I’m not putting on a facade.”

The Iaquinta that stood in front of the media on Thursday is a much more reserved man than the “Raging Al” of old.

“I was just a fighter lost. If I was later in my life and I kept on that path and fighting didn’t work out, I would have been really lost,” he confessed. “It was convenient for me to take a step back and figure out other ways to make money. To come back to fighting when the time was right.”

Iaquinta headlines UFC Ottawa on Saturday, May 4 opposite Donald Cerrone.