Last night’s UFC Fight Night from Nashville had a handful of impressive performances and finishes, perhaps none more so than Al Iaquinta’s first-round knockout of Diego Sanchez in his first fight in roughly two years. And while Iaquinta was clearly proud of his performance, it wasn’t enough to secure a $50,000 bonus from his employer.
The evening’s Fight of the Night went to the main event brawl between top-five ranked featherweight Cub Swanson and unlikely main eventer Artem Lobov. Swanson won a five-round decision but he and many fans grew to respect Lobov through his performance. Performance of the Night bonuses went to Brandon Moreno, who earned his mettle with a gritty submission of Dustin Ortiz, and to “Platinum” Mike Perry who devastated veteran Jake Ellenberger with a right elbow.
Iaquinta did not go quietly when word got out of his exclusion from the performance bonuses. He took to Twitter late Saturday night with tweets such as “Hey [UFC] go f— yourself,” “This place is getting wrecked,” and “Fuck you,” with an attached image of the bonus winners.
Iaquinta’s absence can largely be attributed to a contract dispute with UFC. At one time, Iaquinta was pegged for a fight with Thiago Alves at UFC 205, the promotion’s debut in New York City. UFC dug their heels in and Iaquinta did not get a new contract and moved on to a career in real estate, seemingly for good. He was then announced to be returning for the Sanchez fight, but it was revealed that he was fighting under the terms of his original contract.
After knocking out Sanchez, Iaquinta jumped out of the cage and gloated in front of a less than impressed looking UFC Matchmaker Sean Shelby.
After the fight, Iaquinta was unsure about his future plans. “I don’t know if it’s worth it,” he told media after the fight. “I don’t know if the money is worth everything I go through to do this. It worked out tonight, but it’s not gonna be that easy. So I don’t know. I’ve gotta think if it’s worth it. I’ve got a lot of injuries. It’s a lot of years lost that I’m not making any money. And now I’m not making sponsorships. I’m in the video game and I haven’t gotten a dollar from it and I don’t even have an Xbox and they haven’t even sent me a video game.” (SOURCE)
With his future up in the air, and another potentially more stable career already underway, it may take more than an Xbox to get “Ragin’ Al” back in the cage.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: I really like Al Iaquinta and I hope he does fight again. I recently wrote an article for an MMATorch Roundtable discussing our favorite personalities in MMA and I omitted Iaquinta, mostly because it’s out of sight out of mind, but he really is one of the most captivating personalities in the sport. The way he held his chin up and puffed his chest while he was being interviewed was great and doesn’t come off as contrived at all. Hopefully, UFC sees his value both as a marketable personality but also as a top level fighter and they can come to terms on a deal.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Maurice Smith was announced as this year’s “Pioneer” inductee to the UFC Hall of Fame. He joins Urijah Faber for the ceremony to take place on July 6 in Las Vegas.
-Cub Swanson told media last night that he’s looking to take a break as his wife is giving birth soon. He said he would like to return late this year or early next year for a championship match against the winner of June’s Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway fight. Swanson has a 2009 loss to Aldo and a 2015 loss to Holloway, but concedes that his best path to a title match is with an Aldo win. “I think my chances of fighting for a title, it’s more likely if Aldo wins because then there’s not going to be a rematch.” (SOURCE)
-Frank Mir commented on his two-year suspension on Facebook saying that he’s “frustrated” that USADA claimed a Feb. 5, 2016 sample that was once cleared was now contaminated with the same metabolite he failed for on a March 20, 2016 test. He directed his followers to the next edition of his Phone Booth Fighting podcast set for release on Monday for more details.
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP
-Warlley Alves vs. Kiichi Kunimoto at UFC Fight Night Auckland on June 10.
-Patrick Cummins vs. Gian Villante at UFC on Fox on July 22 from Uniondale, New York.
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)