Al Iaquinta will take on Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC Ottawa this weekend.
Although it is a fresh matchup, ‘Cowboy’ and ‘Raging Al’ nearly collided eight years ago. Back in 2011, at UFC 131, Iaquinta almost stepped in on short notice to take on Cerrone.
“I remember watching him in the WEC and I knew who he was, I knew about him,” Iaquinta told MMA Fighting ahead of UFC Ottawa. “I can’t really pinpoint exactly [my introduction to him], but one thing I do remember, I think I was 4-0 as a professional, 4-0 as a professional fighting in Ring of Combat, and I had a fight scheduled. And I got a call from a manager and he was like, ‘Would you fight in the UFC in like three weeks?’ And it was basically the same date as my fight was. I was like, ‘Who is it against?’ And they were like, ‘Just, for right now just tell us, are you ready, are you able to fight?’ Whatever. So I said, ‘yeah, sure, I’ll take that opportunity any time.’
“I end up finding out that it was Donald Cerrone.”
At that time, Cerrone was one of the best lightweights on the planet, having fought for the WEC title three times. He was also on the path to a UFC title shot. While for Iaquinta he would have been a promotional newcomer and one who had only turned pro just m a few years before. Still, Al Iaquinta says he was more than ready for the fight.
“One of his opponents had fallen out and they were looking for a short-notice replacement. They ended up going with a different guy,” Iaquinta remembered. “He was a jiu-jitsu guy, I can’t remember his name right now, but they ended up going with somebody else. But they were considering me for it, and I don’t know what made them choose the other guy, but he beat the crap out of the other guy. He was just like a jiu-jitsu fighter, and it was pretty crazy. I didn’t even really remember that until just now.
“That was pretty wild. I remember watching that fight at home and being like, ‘Oh man, I should be in there right now.’ It would’ve been fun.”
Ultimately, since then, both Iaquinta and Cerrone have gone their own ways. Both were in lightweight title fights, and now both are in the top-10 of the lightweight rankings. As well, the winner of this fight could very well be next in line for a title shot. And, because of that, Iaquinta is glad this fight is happening now but was confident he would have beat ‘Cowboy’ eight years ago.
“I don’t know, I was confident. I was young,” Iaquinta said. “Definitely, technically, I was nowhere near where I am now. I was just like a loose cannon, I was just wild, man. I was really just a wild, wild, strong wrestler with good boxing. It would’ve been a tough fight for me but there’s definitely the possibility [I could’ve won]. But now I think it’s just, he’s gotten more experience and obviously been in the UFC forever — I think that was one of his earlier fights in the UFC, maybe his second or third fight in the UFC since the WEC. But it’s definitely a better time now. Who knows how things would’ve changed, you know?”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/30/2019