Things didn’t go Al Iaquinta’s way the first time around when he stepped into the Octagon against Khabib Nurmagomedov.
However, as he tells Submission Radio, should he get that opportunity against the undefeated “Eagle” a second time around, things would play out “way different” (via The Body Lock):
“Now I know I’m ready,” Iaquinta added. “I don’t make the same mistake twice, never. I think that things would be a lot different even if I did get to fight on a day’s notice, it’d be way different.”
Iaquinta claimed he wasn’t really training for a wrestler before April 2018’s UFC 223. He said that led to him not taking advantage of opportunities to take Khabib down:
“I wasn’t really training for a wrestler [at UFC 223]. I think my wrestling is up there, especially with my timing with the takedowns. There was a few times where I even got in on Khabib and I didn’t follow through. It’s only going to take a few more changes to really make that fight a big difference. The one thing will definitely be the confidence in my cardio to go five rounds because now that would be an advantage.”
Iaquinta stepped in against Khabib and took the fight on short notice for the vacant 155-pound title. He was able to show some good work against Khabib, going all five rounds with the current 155-pound champion. Many fans have suggested a rematch between the pair would be very interesting, especially if Iaquinta got a full training camp.
Predicting Khabib vs. Poirier
Iaquinta knows interim champ Dustin Poirier is next for Khabib, however. He offered his thoughts on why ‘The Eagle’ will be a much tougher challenge than Poirier’s last opponent Max Holloway was:
“Never say never but I would think Khabib with the wrestling, that’s a huge X-factor,” Iaquinta said. “That’s something Max didn’t really have. Even when you’re just worried about the wrestling, that opens up Khabib’s striking.
“His striking is good, he’s got a unique style, he knocked Conor down. You would never think that would happen but it was really set up all because of his wrestling. He’s got a couple of different layers to his game and that’s a huge problem to deal with.”
If he can continue his impressive run after his recent victory over Kevin Lee in December, Iaquinta might be receiving that lightweight title opportunity sooner rather than later.