Last week I had the opportunity of sitting down with Ray Longo and getting his perspective on Al Iaquinta being on this Season of The Ultimate Fighter. You can check that interview out HERE. This week were going in a different direction from the gym to Al’s home. Last night I had the opportunity to interview Al’s sister Jackie. She was nice enough to sit down and take some time out of her busy schedule and let me ask her some questions. I really appreciate Jackie doing this interview as well as all her great insights. If you think it’s difficult watching Iaquinta’s fight as one of his friends or teammates, imagine how difficult it is watching as a sister.
How Strange is it for you seeing Al on TV, the newspapers, and all over the internet?
Honestly it’s kind of crazy seeing him on TV but it’s also really awesome. If he’s going to be away for so long it’s great to get to see him on TV and all over the internet all week. It’s really cool to see all the support for him on a weekly basis.
How much hard work did you see him put in leading up to the show? Did you, your mom and dad not really see him too often while he was preparing for the show?
The amount of work he puts in is really unbelievable. You can tell that this is his dream and nothing is going to stand in his way. Even though he was training hard twice a day we were still able to see him a lot. He would still be around for dinner and tell us about everything that was going on. The amount of time he puts in is really crazy, like he said the other day it’s just eat, sleep, and train.
What’s it like/how difficult is it for you to watch Al get locked in that cage for a fight? Especially in a fight that gets as bloody as the one in Atlantic City against Miglioli.
It’s extremely nerve racking. I’m usually a nervous wreck the entire day, I feel like I’m fighting. Ever since we were young I’ve thought of him as being invincible but it’s definitely tough seeing him get locked in there. As nervous as I might get I always have confidence going into a fight that he’s going to come out on top.
Speaking with Ray Longo he feels like Al has matured mentally as well as physically since his hand injury. Has that improved your relationship with him? Or is that just a product of getting older?
I think Al’s hand injury definitely helped him mature and bring us closer as well. We had normal sibling fights but we’ve always been pretty close. I think our bond has gotten stronger as the year’s have gone on. I haven’t missed a fight since I’ve been home from school.
Is it strange having people, some of them strangers come up to you and ask you about Al? Any funny stories yet?
It’s really strange having random people come up to me and asking about Al, or telling me that they saw him on TV. It’s something very different that I’m not used to, but it makes me really proud that people are asking. I know how Al is and that isn’t attention he would want. He’s the most humble person I know, he isn’t looking for any reality TV fame.
(Laughing) I actually had a girl come up to me in the bathroom the other day asking if that was my brother on TV which was kind of weird, and then we wound up having a ten minute conversation in the bathroom about it.
Being on TUF comes with some fame(being in front of a national audience) will you ever see Al as “famous” or will he always just be your brother?
He’ll always be the same to me and my family. That’s because I don’t think he’s going to change. Him staying humble and down to earth will make that really easy. I’ll always see him as the way he is.
How important do you think it is for Al to do well on the show after everything he’s been through, and all his hard work?
It’s really important for him and all of us that Al is successful. This is his time, his big chance, and his moment to show the world what he’s all about. I have 100% confidence he’ll be in the finals, but I think what he’s accomplished so far is really amazing.
What similarities have you seen between you and Al as you’ve grown up? Do you ever see yourself putting a pair of boxing gloves on and getting in the ring/cage?
There’s a lot of similarities between me and my brother. I get my strong work ethic from him. He sets the bar really high for himself and seeing him reaching his goals is really motivating. I’ve learned to do the same in my own life.
(Laughing) You have to be nuts, I would never do that!
What does it mean to you to see all the continued support for Al, like seeing a hundred people come down to McCanns to watch his first fight?
It’s truly amazing to see all the support for him. These fights can be really brutal to watch as a sister, it’s great to have constant support from friends and family. That makes it an even better experience for me. I’ve always said if you’ve been to one of his Ring of Combat fight’s you see Al always has the greatest fans. I think it really helps him knowing he has all that support.
You can’t talk to him but if you could what message would you want to send him?
I would just want to tell him that we all love him and are supporting him every step of the way. Everyone around here is really proud of him and misses him a lot.
All right I put Longo on the spot last week so I’m going to do the same to you. Iaquinta against Jury Friday Night. Let’s hear your predication.
Without a doubt, Al’s going to win. That isn’t even a good question!
Interview by- Matt Pellicane