UFC 223 saw Khabib Nurmagomedov being crowned as the new UFC Lightweight champion. While it was Khabib that took the gold home, his opponent, Al Iaquinta won hearts at the event.
Iaquinta, who stepped into the fight against Khabib on a one day notice, was initially supposed to fight Paul Felder at the event. But a string of unfortunate events ended up in Khabib vs. Al Iaquinta for the event.
Though Khabib was the clear favourite in the fight, Al Iaquinta managed to impress the fans by going the distance and making Khabib earn the championship. After this incredible outing, Al Iaquinta came in as a guest on the MMA Hour last day and opened up about his fight with the Russian.
“He’s an animal, he’s different. There are few guys that feel that heavy on top of you. He was on top of me and I felt it, he was strong for sure. He was talking to Serra, and telling him ‘Good job, great advice,’ We had a great time, it was fun,” Iaquinta told. (H/T MMA Mania)
He respected me
Iaquinta went on to add that Khabib respected him and explained why the fight did not have a stoppage finish.
“He didn’t exert all his energy because he knew he was going to have to kill me to finish me. And if he didn’t finish me he was going to gas himself out. Five rounds is a long fight and he knew that. He definitely respected me. People always wonder if I’m that good. I come to fight, there is a reason why guys don’t look good against me. People feel something in there, it’s a vibe, an energy, I am not fucking going anywhere. You can say what you want, but at the end of the day I went in there to win that fight and he knew it. If he made one mistake I was going to take his head off.” He added.
The 30-year-old is now 13-4 after his loss at UFC 223 while Khabib remained undefeated and improved his record to 26-0.