Initially, Al Iaquinta was expected to battle former World Series of Fighting champ Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC Lincoln on August 25. But then, Iaquinta was removed from the matchup without explanation, and replaced by James Vick.
After Iaquinta was pulled from the fight, there was quite a bit of speculation as to why it happened. Given Iaquinta’s long history of butting heads with the UFC, some wondered if perhaps he’d found himself in another disagreement with the promotion — or perhaps even been given the Leslie Smith treatment and sent packing.
Apparently, however, the reason’s for Iaquinta’s removal from the card are much less ominous than this.
Speaking on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show this week, Iaquinta explained that he’s actually just dealing with a lingering injury, and that he felt a little rushed by the UFC. In his eyes, the fight didn’t make sense at this moment. Most importantly, though, he says things are currently ok between him and the UFC.
Aaron Bronsteter explains:
Al Iaquinta has not fought since April, when he gave up a decision to the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov in a fight he accepted on about 24 hours notice. This is the bout that earned Nurmagomedov the UFC lightweight title.
Iaquinta’s next most recent win occurred in April of 2017, when he knocked out Diego Sanchez in the first round, improving his win-streak to five-straight.
Who do you want to see Al Iaquinta fight when he’s healthy enough to return to the cage?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/2/2018.