“I don’t lose in the late rounds. The third round belongs to me.” That’s a statement that came from light weight Al Iaquinta a few years ago, and one that stood true yesterday. It’s not only describes the Serra Longo fighters conditioning, but his determination and will power. He showed that yesterday against Jorge Masvidal.
Iaquinta and Masvidal squared off in the Co Main event at UFC Fight Night 63 where it was Iaquinta winning a tight, hard fought split decision over Masvidal. Iaquinta got after Masvidal early who kept his defense tight avoiding any major damage. Masvidal was able to keep his distance with his long reach, keeping both fighters working on their feet. Late in the round after a tough exchange between the two Iaquinta attempted a heel hook to avoid what could have been more damage. In the next exchange Masvidal was able to drop Al and cut him under his right eye.
Going into Round two Iaquinta’s corner cleaned up the cut and he was able to regain his composure to start the round. The two fighters exchanged back and fourth as the fight began to look like it would remain a boxing match. Iaquinta attempted a single leg but was unable to take down Masvidal who showcased some solid defense. Where Masvidal was still able to land several clean shots Iaquinta continued to push the action hitting Jorge with several tough leg kicks. Iaquinta continued to exchange and stand toe to toe with The American Top Team fighter.
Iaquinta continued to chip away in round three. His leg attack began to show it’s effects on Masvidal who switched his stance and appeared to be working at a slower pace, fighting very defensively. He began to dance around the ring, eating shots from Raging Al and then laughing them off. Iaquinta continued to work landing some hard rights throughout the round. Raging Al pushed the pace constantly throughout the final minute.
The fight went to the judges score card with no decisive winner. Iaquinta was the clear aggressor later in the fight setting up what would be a close call on the judges score cards. The fight was scored as a split decision, 29-28 Iaquinta, 30-27 Masvidal, and 29-28 Iaquinta. Yet it was the post fight interview that took the attention off of the tight fought fight.
Ignorant fans booed as Iaquinta began to get interviewed. It wasn’t clear if they were booing Iaquinta, or the judges but Iaquinta didn’t take very well to the booing, and rightfully so. “Are you booing me?” Iaquinta asked. “You guys better not be booing me. I fought my ass off. F*ck you.” A point that many agreed on. All these fighters put it all on the line and deserve all the respect in the world. They train incredibly hard every day and don’t deserve to be Booed.
Once Iaquinta was able to compose himself he later justified his comments in interviews. Here are some comments from Al via MMA Junkie. “You know, I train hard every day,” Iaquinta said. “When I go in there, win or lose, I want the crowd to cheer. I feel like I showed a lot of heart. I pushed through a tough first round. That fight would have been ‘Fight of the Night, but I think he took the second round off. Third round, same thing. I was chasing him, I was overextending my punches because he was out of there. He coasted those last two rounds.”
Iaquinta went on, “Maybe they were booing the judges, but I don’t think there’s any reason to be booing me. I laid it all out there. I took my beating in the first round, and I came back. It really ripped my heart out. I work my ass off, I do this for the fans.”
Regardless of the after math yet another hard fought victory for Raging Al. A fight that he not only showed his toughness coming back from a difficult first round, but his endurance and his strength to continue to stay focused and work hard. He continued to chip away at Masvidal showing that he was the fighter who wanted it more. Raging Al showed he’s as tough as they come, and that he can hang with anyone in this division. Iaquinta continues to rage on, climbing his way up through the light weight division.