Once again Iaquinta Nation it’s fight night, and an exciting one at that. In tonight’s UFC Fight Night main event it will be “Raging” Al Iaquinta taking on Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Where both have expressed a mutual respect for one another it will be all business when the cage doors lock. Both fighters know just how important this bout is in regards to another shot at lightweight gold.
It’s two very intriguing paths that Iaquinta and Cerrone are currently on. Cerrone the well known gritty veteran. A competitor that all fight fans know, respect, and enjoy watching. The UFC’s all time win leader holding victories over some of Mixed Martial Art’s best. He’s fought on short notice, in two different weight classes, won several post fight bonuses, and fought for a title multiple times. Yet the knock on Cowboy has always been his inability to come through in the “big fight”. With all that in the past, THIS is now that next big fight. If Cowboy wants another opportunity to fight for a title it starts with the tough New Yorker Iaquinta.
Iaquinta’s journey has been spoken about in depth this week. Showcasing his talent and his skill set early on he opened eyes on his season of the Ultimate Fighter, TUF Live. Iaquinta began to climb the Lightweight ranks but would eventually be sidelined with injuries, butting heads with UFC brass, contract disputes, keeping many people, as well as himself wondering if he would ever fight again. A lay off would give him time to get his body as well as his mind healthy, while concentrating on other aspects of his career in Real Estate. Once healthy Iaquinta would come back strong making quick work of UFC great Diego Sanchez. Yet Iaquinta continued to not get the respect many thought he deserved. It wasn’t until he went five rounds with arguably one of UFC’s best in Khabib Nurmagemedov that he would open the eyes of some of those remaining skeptics. As his fight game as well as his confidence grew it became more evident that this was a competitor hitting his stride and ready to take on anyone in this stacked lightweight division.
Many are all ready calling this match up fight of the night, and potentially fight of the year. Fans are expecting to see a war between two fighters who aren’t afraid to go toe to toe with their respected opponents. Both have been in their fair share of wars, Cowboy even more so than the younger Iaquinta. Iaquinta has spoken several times this week how that “war” everyone is looking for isn’t on his agenda. While he’ll be ready if the contest goes that route the #4 ranked Lightweight plans to make quick work of the slow starter Cerrone. “I’m going in for the KO, the submission, for the early finish. It would be a huge statement” Iaquinta told MMA Weekly.
Both fighters come in with a chip on their shoulders. Cerrone now finding his motivation from his new born son fighting with what he’s called a “primal instinct”. Cowboy who will likely fight as long as his body and UFC allows him to also knows he isn’t a “young gun” anymore. He’s had opportunities to fight for titles over the years, unfortunately coming up short. Although he may not admit it you would have to think he knows his window of opportunity is closing. On the other hand Iaquinta’s window is wide open. Following his KO win over Diego Sanchez he’s looked more and more comfortable in the octagon each fight. Many have known the talent was always there with Iaquinta. He now continues to improve in all aspects of his game, looking smoother, and sharper every time he competes. Despite the high ranking many still don’t give Iaquinta the respect that he rightfully deserves. A win over another well respected fighter in Cowboy can do just that.
Cowboy Cerrone is a match up Al Iaquinta has had his eye on for some time. He knows despite Cowboy being ranked lower than him that a victory will continue to raise his all ready growing stock. Look for Iaquinta to come out throwing fire early, looking for an opportunity to finish Cowboy in the early going. Where both have shown to be powerful knock out artists it’s the younger Iaquinta who’s never been knocked out before. While Iaquinta may look to test the chin of Cowboy early, Cowboy will look to test the ground game of Raging Al as the fight progresses. The fight could end early, yet could just as easily go all five rounds. That will remain to be seen in this unpredictable main event. Whatever the outcome may be Iaquinta Nation it’s Fight Night! Time to go to War.