Al Iaquinta is looking to go 2-0 against Kevin Lee and make his case for another title shot. Before taking a two-year hiatus in 2015, Iaquinta was 7-2 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship with four knockouts and quickly became known as one of the slickest counter boxers in the division.
Iaquinta’s counter boxing style is simple and effective. He's not going to wow you with volume or show us anything we haven’t seen before, but his precise counter right hook and ability to take a punch and keep pressuring forward makes him a matchup nightmare for anybody. Something to notice about his counters is how he mixes in single precision counter strikes with full-blown counter combos in the pocket. Often, counter strikers like Connor McGregor can become predictable with their counters since they rely on a single power shot. But mixing in the single power shot with exchanges in the pocket makes someone like Iaquinta less predictable.
Just as Iaquinta mixes up how he counters, he also knows when to be the leading attacker and when to sit back and counter. His leading attacks are also simple, as he usually just throws one-twos and hooks to the head and body, but his understanding of the basics of boxing and comfort striking in the pocket has led him to success.
Iaquinta has also briefly shown a nice jab, especially when he doubles up on it, but he doesn't use it near enough. As a counter striker, the jab should be a staple of his offense since he can use it to stifle the leading attacks and set up the counter right. On the lead, Iaquinta likes to throw a wild overhand right, which could land more easily if he doubled up on the jab like above.
Although Iaquinta does his best work when patiently working on the counter, his nickname is “Ragin” for a reason. When Iaquinta smells blood, he will throw wild flurries against the cage looking for the finish and his ability to stay calm in these moments and mix up his attack from head to toe is very impressive. Iaquinta also has incredible power for a lightweight as seven of his 13 wins have come by knockout.
Something concerning for Iaquinta going into this fight is that three of his four losses are by submission and he has been dominated on the ground in the past. Lee will certainly be looking to get the fight to the ground, so it would be nice to see Iaquinta incorporate more footwork into his stand up to make takedowns harder to land. Although he was dominated on the ground by Nurmagomedov earlier this year, we cannot forget that he gave the champion his toughest fight in years while taking the bout on short notice following a year layoff.