Former Ultimate Fighter runner-up Al Iaquinta made a short visit over to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City back in 2005 and witnessed the UFC for the first time.
Iaquinta, who defeated Piotr Hallmann last week to improve to 2-1 inside the Octagon, saw such bouts as Rich Franklin defeat Evan Tanner to become the middleweight champion, Andrei Arlovski defend his interim heavyweight title and Forrest Griffin choke Bill Mahood out.
“UFC 53 in Atlantic City was the first UFC me and my friends went to in high school,” said Iaquinta, during a recent interview with FightLine. “The energy in the arena was crazy that night. The punches and kicks were so fast and so precise.”
One particular fighter on the main card would go on to become a very close friend of Iaquinta’s, as Matt Serra lost to Karo Parisyan via decision.
Iaquinta trains with Serra and Ray Longo in New York alongside UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
“That was the first time I told myself that I was going to fight in that Octagon one day,” he said.
The UFC will celebrate its 20th anniversary later this month with UFC 167.