By the time Al Iaquinta steps back into the Octagon, it will have been 15 months since he last did so.
Iaquinta faces Ryan Couture at UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis from Milwaukee next Saturday evening.
Due to injuries, the former Ultimate Fighter runner-up has been forced to rehab and train since a loss to Michael Chiesa back in June of 2012.
“I am feeling great right now,” said Iaquinta, in an interview with FightLine. “I am amped up and ready to finally get back in the cage.”
Iaquinta (5-2-1) turned pro in 2009 and competed four times that year. He didn’t fight in 2010, then fought twice in 2011 before trying out and making it to the first – and only – live season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Back in April, the Serra-Longo fighter was scheduled to meet Joe Proctor, also a contestant on the same TUF season. However, both fighters eventually were forced out with knee injuries.
Iaquinta was given the chance to return quicker than he thought thanks to an injury to Quinn Mulhern, taking his place against the son of former UFC champion Randy Couture.
“Training is winding down as far as intensity goes and now I’m just concentrating on getting my weight down and staying focused,” he said. “I leave New York and head out to Milwaukee on Tuesday and will be joined by Ray Longo, Matt Serra and Pat DeFranco. They will all be with me and in my corner.”
The 26-year-old New Yorker offered us into what he’ll be doing upon arriving in Wisconsin next week, saying, “I will be doing whatever promotional stuff I have to do for the UFC leading up to the weigh-in and I will have my last couple workouts, finishing up my weight cut before Friday.”