This Friday night will conclude the final two quarterfinal match ups, the first being between Vinc Pichel and Chris Saunders, and the fight the majority of you reading this are most interested in Al Iaquinta vs. Andy Ogle. While most of the guys are friendly with each other in the house, the match up between Iaquinta and the England native Ogle is the first time this season two teammates will face off against each other. You’ll get a chance to see two guys in Iaquinta and Ogle who have different backgrounds, different styles, and different mentalities face off in what should be a very interesting fight.
There may not be to many things Al Iaquinta and Andy Ogle have in common but the biggest similarity between the two is there both very content on fighting being their full time job. Both have gone on record saying that, and stressed the importance of pursuing their dreams, and fighting the best fighters in the world in the UFC. Aside from that there aren’t many similarities between the two, yet Al and Ogle seem to have become friendly in the house. That becomes the most intriguing part of this fight, the challenge of fighting someone who is a friend and teammate.
It can be difficult having to fight someone who you’ve trained with for over two months. Depending on which way you look at it, it could be a positive or negative. You’re fighting someone who’s strength’s and weaknesses have all ready been exposed to you every day. With all do respect to Ogle who I think is a great fighter, I think Al is mentally stronger and will be able to deal with this much easier. In his interview with Jon Anik the other day Al discussed how he always knew this could come down to fighting a teammate, realizing that at a certain point this “tournament” isn’t about the team anymore, it’s about the individual. My guess would be that’s the way Al’s been thinking since the beginning, and it all goes back to a conversation I had with him a long time ago. Al once told me “I walk into places and I’m always sizing people up. I would fight this guy this way, and I’d fight that guy that way.” He’s been mentally prepared to fight anyone in that house from the very beginning.
The difficult part of fighting a teammate could be a coaching switch. In past seasons when fighters from the same team fought, one of the fighters would go train with the other team so you weren’t training all week with the person you’re going to fight. This could shake things up a bit since now you’re changing your routine and receiving instruction from a different coach. It will be interesting to see on Friday how that pans out.
Ogle, who has shown a strength in Jiu-Jitsu in previous fights feels like a lot of these guys don’t like being hit in the face, and are very one dimensional. He can think that all he want’s but that’s not what he’s getting in his opponent Al Iaquinta. Al is extremely well rounded and has all ready shown he isn’t afraid to get hit hard and keep on fighting. We’ve previously discussed how important it is to be mentally strong in this game which is exactly what Al brings to the table. We’ve seen the opposite in Ogle just a few weeks ago when he had a break down in practice. Not to read to much into it but Ogle was also interviewed last week where he said he would want to fight Pichel or Saunders, but never mentioned fighting Al. Was it just a slip, is it because their good friends, or was it simply because he doesn’t want to fight Al? Where I don’t think Ogle is afraid of Al I think he’s well aware of just how tough Al is, realizing how challenging this fight will be.
Iaquinta also has a wrestling advantage over Andy Ogle. It will be interesting to see if the two stand up like Iaquinta did with Myles Jury, or if Al will look to take Ogle down and then deal with his ground game. Regardless of each fighters strengths and weaknesses, and any friendship they may have built over the past few months, Friday night it’s time to go to work. Al knows that he’s close to the finish line of this first journey, and it’s time to take out anyone in his way.