A second knee surgery and long recovery almost had one of UFC’s rising stars, and top lightweight contenders considering retirement this passed year. Now six months later Al Iaquinta gets ready to square off against veteran Diego Sanchez. Quite the turn of events, yet one that leaves fight fans as well as Iaquinta very excited.
Sometimes the timing just isn’t right. For Iaquinta back in November it just wasn’t appearing to lineup for a fight at Madison Square Garden. Physically his body wasn’t prepared to step back in the octagon, and financially UFC wasn’t offering proper compensation for a top 15 fighter. While some fighters may have continued on and just went through the motions Iaquinta took a stand. He opted to not fight on New York’s first card and pursue a career in Real Estate while he contemplated his future in The UFC.
Like fighting getting started and learning something new can be challenging. Anyone who’s explored the world of Real Estate will confirm that. After a slow start Iaquinta eventually settled in and started to do very well for himself. In the interim it gave his body much needed time to heal while setting him up to not rely on fighting and sponsorships as his sole income. Iaquinta told MMA Junkie “Now I’m really in my prime, I feel I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. I feel I’ve gotten better, I’ve gotten faster. My body healed up. I feel good.”
The transition not only left Iaquinta feeling physically better than ever, but financially comfortable and with a path for life after fighting. A meeting with matchmaker Sean Shelby helped smooth things over with Iaquinta and The UFC. About a month later news broke that Iaquinta would return to fight Sanchez.
Although Iaquinta’s game plan will remain the same, Calm Cool and Collected, the mindset has changed. “I’m just having fun” Iaquinta said. “This is what I love to do, it’s good to be back. Now I have my best interests at heart.” Piece of mind is an important thing. The worry of another injury occurring and how that in turn could effect Iaquinta financially is gone. It helps Iaquinta be a bit more care free. Make no mistake about it by no means am I saying Iaquinta has trained care free, he certainly hasn’t. In fact “Raging” Al has trained just as hard while making sure to take care of his body at the same time. Most people wouldn’t say there idea of “just having fun” would be locked in a cage, but for Iaquinta he feels back at home.