The relationship between Al Iaquinta and the Ultimate Fighting Championship seems to get worse by the day and now it might be close to breaking point after the New York native pulled out of his most recent fight with Justin Gaethje at UFC Lincoln.
Iaquinta revealed that an injury to his shoulder was the primary reason he withdrew from the fight but said his real estate business is doing well enough that he’s getting the same pay that he would if he were fighting Gaethje (via MMAFighting.com).
“Basically, in the time that I would have trained for that fight, I made as much money selling real estate,” Iaquinta said. “So, it’s not a money thing. I enjoyed my summer. I wasn’t going to bed injured every night, I wasn’t waking up with a sore neck. I didn’t have to worry about Justin Gaethje’s crazy ass. I’m doing what I want to do. If they made it worth it for me, I would have. I’m making my show money in that amount of time when these deals close out. It’s crazy that a real estate agent on Long Island can make their show money for headlining a five-round fight against a top-six, top-seven guy in the world.”
“Ragin’ Al” said he feels like the UFC rushed Gaethje and himself to fight each other considering the shoulder injury he had just suffered against Khabib Nurmagomedov in April and the fact that Gaethje is coming off two straight knockout losses.
“I was almost like, you’re not looking out for me and you’re not looking out for Gaethje,” Iaquinta said. “The guy just got pummeled his last three fights. You’re not looking out for him, you don’t care about me, because you didn’t even ask me how I’m feeling. They called me that night of the fight and a couple weeks later they offered me another fight.”
Iaquinta believes he is fortunate that he has his real estate business to fall back on because he thinks other fighters in his situation would have had to take the fight with an injury as they need the money.
“The rest of the fighters, they all would have taken the fight, you know what I mean?” he said. “They all would have taken it and they would have had to push through the injury. I was like, you know what? F*ck this. I’m gonna make just as much money walking around, meeting people selling real estate. I’m making great connections with people like me — my kind of people. It’s a beautiful thing.
“So, my friends are buying houses,” Iaquinta continued. “It’s just so much better. I had such a great time. The last two months of my life were just so much better. So much more stress free. And I made just as much money. Could I have fought Gaethje and got something? It really doesn’t matter. Shots come and go. It’s not even about winning and losing. I don’t know. The more I think about it, the more frustrated I get.”
Back in April, Iaquinta was initially scheduled to fight Paul Felder, but after a freak injury to Tony Ferguson and a failed weight cut by stand-in Max Holloway, he was the last man standing and UFC offered him the fight against Nurmagomedov on just a day’s notice. Financially it was a good move for Iaquinta, as he claims the UFC paid him $250,000 for the fight, but he believes he would have received more under the previous ownership led by the Fertitta brothers.
“I earned every penny I got and I’m not complaining about it,” Iaquinta said. “But … I think back a couple years ago it would have been a lot more.”
Without the financial pressure to fight, Iaquinta said he’ll only fight when he feels like he wants too and pencilled in a bout later in the year against either Ferguson, Anthony Pettis or Kevin Lee.
“I’ve wanted to fight forever, but it’s not gonna be at my expense,” Iaquinta said. “It’s gonna have to be an asset for me to fight.
“I’m training, I’m having fun in the gym,” he continued. “I’m training when I want to train. I’m getting better when I want to get better. I don’t have to do anything. Am I missing out on opportunities? Maybe. It’s too much stress. I’m having fun with my life now. I’ve given up on the UFC getting behind me. So I’m just getting behind myself.”