Another tough fight, another win for Al Iaquinta(8-2-1) last night at UFC 169. After a strong first round Iaquinta ran into a little bit of trouble in the second. Kevin Lee was able to secure Iaquinta’s back and lock in a rear naked choke. Al spent most of that round defending and was able to eventually work his way out of the dangerous position. The third round Iaquinta came out clearly on a mission, knowing he had lost the previous round. His dominance late in the fight lead him right to another unanimous decision victory to kick off the UFC Prelims.
Iaquinta’s walk out song “New York” blared throughout the Prudential Center as chants of I-A-Quinta echoed throughout the building. Tons of friends and family of Iaquinta packed the arena excited to see the New Yorker take on Kevin Lee. Iaquinta didn’t disappoint. He came out looking sharp in the first round. He was able to work past the long reach of Lee and land some shots early on. Iaquinta showcased his impressive stand up to start off the fight and was able to drop Lee with a big left hand. Lee bounced back and battled through the hard shot from Iaquinta.
Later, Lee shot a single leg on Iaquinta which put him in even more trouble. Al transitioned into a beautiful heel hook. Had Lee not been able to defend by sticking his hand in Al’s glove the fight may have been over. “That’s my move” Iaquinta said. “Don’t shoot a single leg on me.” He went further to say “It was deep man. He doesn’t have that hand in there fights over.”
Then came round two. After a dominant first round Iaquinta found himself in a very difficult position in the second round. Lee ducked under a right hand from Iaquinta and was able to take him down and secure his back. There Lee sunk in a rear naked choke, as all of Iaquinta Nation held there breath. A position fans had seen Iaquinta in last year in the TUF Finale. “ It went through my mind, I definitely had a flash of the Finale. I just told myself there’s no way that’s happening again” Iaquinta said. He was able to remain relaxed and stay composed, working on the hands of Lee. He eventually broke the choke, but spent most of the round on his back. Lee clearly became tired as the round progressed, spending a lot of his energy keeping a body lock secure around Iaquinta.
Following the fight reporters asked Iaquinta if he was willing to “go out” again, referring to the choke in the TUF Finale. “Was I willing to go out again? I wasn’t willing to lose. I’ll never tap out to a choke” Iaquinta said. Iaquinta battled through the round but clearly round two belonged to Lee.
Iaquinta came out in the third round knowing it was a round he had to have. He came out energized not showing any signs of fatigue from a trying second round. He was able to outwork Lee throughout the round, hitting him with solid strikes during the process. Iaquinta sealed the deal late in the third dazing Lee with a flurry of punches, and sending him on his way to a unanimous decision win. “The third round, that’s my round. I don’t lose there.”