It turns out that Al Iaquinta won’t be fighting Justin Gaethje at UFC Lincoln.
Despite the fact that the UFC officially announced the fight earlier this month, it will not happen.
Iaquinta is coming off the biggest fight thus far in his pro-MMA career as he agreed to step in on 24 hours notice and fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of the UFC 223 pay-per-view event after the promotion was seeking a replacement for both Tony Ferguson and Max Holloway. Khabib ended up winning the fight by decision along with the undisputed UFC lightweight title.
When asked by MMAJunkie about the fight, Iaquinta stayed vague with his response after the news was made ESPN.com’s Ariel Helwani.
“The only comment I have is that you will have to ask Justin if the fight is happening or not,” Iaquinta said. He then followed up with: “I’m glad I’m not in a position here where I have to take fights under any condition like these other guys.”
This leads us to Gaethje’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, telling MMAJunkie that Iaquinta will not be fighting Gaethje in the lightweight main event.
“I have a lot of respect for Al because he fought Khabib (Nurmagomedov) on like an hour notice (at UFC 223), so I can’t talk nothing bad about him,” Abdelaziz told MMAjunkie. “I’m not questioning his heart, but I don’t know what he’s going through. I hope he’s OK.
“I don’t know if he tried to get more money, but fighting Justin Gaethje is a tall order. If I’m a fighter, you have to pay me $1 million to fight Justin. And if he thinks he deserves more money to fight Justin, I can’t fight. It’s not personal. I know Justin is a little bit upset, but for me it’s OK. Whoever Justin is going to be fighting, it’s going to be an exciting fight. If you’re going to put a chair in the octagon, it’s going to be exciting.”
“I think Al is a really good fighter – I think he’s a top-five fighter,” Abdelaziz said. “I think it was going to be a great fight, but now there’s no fight. … When you sign to fight Al, sometimes he’s going to fight, and sometimes he’s going to show up and fight you out of nowhere like when he showed up to fight Khabib. He’s an unpredictable guy. I personally love Al. I think he’s a good guy.”
Gaethje is coming off a tough loss. Back in the main event of the UFC on FOX 29 show (April 14, 2018) that took place at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, Dustin Poirier picked up a TKO win in the fourth round over the former WSOF champion. Gaethje looks to snap a two-fight skid as he lost to Eddie Alvarez before his previous fight.
The promotion has officially announced that James Vick will step in for Iaquinta to fight Gaethje at this event.
Def not happening
— A1 Iaquinta🗽 (@ALIAQUINTA) June 27, 2018
They all backed out not me
— A1 Iaquinta🗽 (@ALIAQUINTA) June 28, 2018
UFC Lincoln is set to take place on August 25, 2018 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The main card will air on FOX Sports 1 while the preliminary card will be split broadcasted on FOX Sports 1 and the promotion’s streaming service, UFC Fight Pass.
The promotion will be announcing more bouts for this event in the coming weeks. Here is the updated card:
Justin Gaethje vs. James Vick
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. John Moraga
Angela Hill vs. Alexa Grasso
Antonio Braga Neto vs. Andrew Sanchez
Eryk Anders vs. Tim Williams
Drew Dober vs. Jon Tuck
Luke Sanders vs. Rani Yahya