Former Ultimate Fighter runner-up Al Iaquinta waited month after month after month to finally return to the Octagon and compete.
Now, fresh off an impressive victory over Ryan Couture, Iaquinta will make a quick turnaround, as he has agreed to face Anthony Njokuani at UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Munoz next month. The card takes place from Manchester, England.
Iaquinta (6-2-1) earned his first UFC win vs. Couture in August, dominating him over the course of three rounds. Wednesday night, the Serra-Longo team fighter was enjoying a little television when his phone rang.
“I didn’t know for sure that I was going to be booked so quickly,” said Iaquinta, in an exclusive interview with FightLine after news of his fight broke. “Ray (Longo) and I were actually talking earlier before I got the call about how many 155 (pound) fights were coming up in the next two months.
“We were talking about staying in shape and being ready for the call. It just so happened that night I got the call while watching the new episode of The Ultimate Fighter.”
Iaquinta said he has no reservations about fighting across the pond in England. In fact, he is embracing the opportunities that the UFC is presenting him.
“I like the idea of fighting in England,” he said. “There is a great chance I never would have made it to Milwaukee in my lifetime, but I got to go over there to fight Ryan. It was an awesome city.
“I probably never would have made it over to England. I’m loving traveling and seeing the world; I’m really living a dream right now.”
Njoukani (16-7) is coming off a knockout over Roger Bowling. He is 3-3 in six UFC appearances, alternating wins and losses since 2011.
“A win over Anthony would put me on the map for sure,” Iaquinta stated. “He is a well known guy in the division that has fought some of the toughest guys at 155.”
After spending all that time on the sidelines, “Ragin” is hoping to be able to compete more frequently going forward.
“I would really like to fight as much as possible,” he added. “I had a long layoff after TUF and I have a lot of time to make up.
“I’ve worked really hard to get where I am and there is so much I can do that people haven’t seen yet.”