Al Iaquinta picked up Saturday’s most controversial win. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
The first emotion Al Iaquinta experienced following his bout with Jorge Masvidal was not relief at having escaped with a controversial split-decision victory in the UFC Fight Night “Mendes vs. Lamas” co-main event.
Instead, the lightweight known as “Ragin’ Al” felt anger and resentment as the boos rained down from those in attendance at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., on Saturday afternoon. When it came time to discuss his victory in a post-fight interview with UFC commentator Jon Anik, Iaquinta didn’t hold back, unleashing a profane tirade at fans who were unhappy with the judges’ decision.
While many observers felt that Masvidal did enough to get the nod from the cageside judges, Iaquinta took the immediate reaction personally.
“I train hard every day and 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,” he said. “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 throwing my punches because he was out of there. He coasted those last two rounds.
“Maybe they were booing the judges,” he continued. “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, I came back and I think I showed a lot of what I’m made of. It hurts to hear the people booing you.”
There were a couple of fans, in particular, that caught Iaquinta’s attention.
“I don’t know what they could be booing. Just the decision, maybe they didn’t agree with it, but it bothered me,” he said. “I looked in the crowd, and I see two kids giving me the finger. It set me off…I got so heated.”
Even with his fourth consecutive victory in tow, it took some time for the New York native to calm down. With help from his coaches, Ray Longo and Matt Serra, he eventually did.
“Both Ray and Matt, they said you can’t listen to the crowd. They told me I won the fight and calmed me down. It took them a while to get through to me because I was so frustrated,” Iaquinta said. “They said you should be happy, and I am. I worked really hard for this fight, and I got what I earned.”
Masvidal was at his best in round one, as he consistently landed his jab and later had Iaquinta reeling with a flying knee and follow-up barrage. “Gamebred” later opened up a cut under his opponent’s right eye that bled throughout the remainder of the contest. Bloodied but unbowed, Iaquinta continued to come forward as Masvidal’s output slowed.
While Iaquinta acknowledged that wearing the damage from Masvidal’s initial assault swayed the opinions of those who watched the fight, he believes the judges’ ultimately made the right call.
“It could have been; the blood definitely didn’t help,” Iaquinta said. “Every time I hit him he made a little face like it didn’t bother him and maybe they were looking at that. But every time I hit him he felt it, I know that for sure. I think the judges got it right. I think the second and third round I took, and he just didn’t want it that much.”