Al Iaquinta made his mark during his stint on The Ultimate Fighter.
Iaquinta was the first selection for Urijah Faber, and earned the coach his first victory on the show. Iaquinta reached the finals before falling to Michael Chiesa with the TUF title on the line.
Currently, Iaquinta is on the sidelines due to a knee injury suffered in the semifinals of the show against Vinc Pichel. Iaquinta, who trains at Serra-Longo Fight Team, will be on crutches for a month but plans on fighting for the UFC when he is healed up.
Recently, Iaquinta discussed a number of subjects in an interview with FightLine.
What kind of surgery did you have, and when did it happen?
Al Iaquinta: In my TUF semifinal fight against Vince Pichel we clashed shins and knees on a few occasions, I figured it was just badly bruised but about a month after the show had ended it was still bothering me to the point that I couldn’t train. I got an MRI and it showed that I had torn cartilage underneath my knee cap.
I had Arthroscopic surgery to remove the torn piece of cartilage and to repair the space where the cartilage had been torn from. I will probably be on crutches for the next month and then have to rehab it back to strength.
In regards to TUF, what stands out most from your time in the house, and would you recommend the experience to other fighters?
AI: I would definitely recommend it to other fighters! I went into the house not knowing what to expect so I just expected the worst. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. Everyone that I roomed with (Andy Ogle, Daron Cruickshank, Cristiano Marcello, Chris Saunders) and everyone in the house was real cool. There weren’t any real big arguments or fights in the house which was great considering we were in a stressful situation to begin with.
The training on the show was awesome. Every day I was training with eight of the top 155-pound prospects in the world. We also had Team Alpha Male guys training with us every day. The coaches were awesome. There is not really anywhere in the world where so many talented guys come to one place to train and it was amazing that I got the opportunity to benefit from it.
Take us back to the TUF final against Michael Chiesa. What do you wish you had done differently in the fight?
AI: I remember feeling pretty confident going into the fight. I was really going for the kill. At one point I caught one of his kicks and threw a very wild punch that set him up to take my back. I knew he was very good when he has opponents’ backs and I panicked. He sunk the choke in and everything went black.
At the time I thought I had a good strategy going in. If I could have done anything differently I would have been a little less aggressive and more composed on my feet. I also wish I wouldn’t have panicked when I had my back taken, a position I have escaped thousands of times in training.
What’s Team Serra-Longo like as a training unit?
AI: While training at Serra-Longo there’s never a dull moment. Between Ray Longo and Matt Serra there is always a lot of fun before and after training. During training it’s all business. There’s a lot of guys on the team that have been to the top and a lot of guys who are on their way to the top. It’s a great mix of guys and a great recipe for success.
Unlike a lot of the camps out there, there are no guys who are recruited. We are a team comprised of local guys, homegrown talent. I think that gives us a unique dynamic and a sense of unity.