Al Iaquinta stepped into the UFC 223 main event with Khabib Nurmagomedov on short notice after Max Holloway was forced off the card due to a forgettable weight cut.
Despite suffering a defeat at the event, Iaquinta won hearts with her performance and positioned himself into a respectable position in the Lightweight division. The 30-year-old was a guest on the MMA Hour recently and recalled the experience of fighting Khabib at UFC 223.
During the appearance, Iaquinta spoke highly about the standup game of the Russian.
“His standup was really good. I felt like I was a step behind him, just from the first two rounds of trying to get up and stay against the cage, he was kind of wearing on me a little bit. So I felt a little behind, but his jab is good. Every time I tried to let so combos go, he’s awkward, he’s got like the Russians — it’s just a different style of boxing. They were saying he’s got his head up. I connect with everybody. … It was hard to get to him. He’s tough, he’s tough. He’s got his own style. He’s awkward. Maybe it doesn’t look like it from the outside, but, he’s definitely, he’s f*cking tough man.” Iaquinta said.
Khabib’s game plan
Al Iaquinta also opened up about how Khabib’s game plan played out in UFC 223.
“I know he didn’t want to exert his energy trying to finish me because he knew he was going to have to kill me to finish me, and if he didn’t kill me, he was going to gas himself out. And five rounds is a long fight. So I know he knew that, he definitely respected me and he felt that. I think he’s got a little bit of — people are like, ‘Is he really that good?. Don’t think like that.” He added.
The defeat against Khabib derailed Iaquinta’s five-fight winning streak and he currently holds a record of 13-4 to his name. Nevertheless, the performance has earned Iaquinta some positive perks which he might be able to use in the long run.