Al Iaquinta says Cowboy loss provided ‘wake-up call’

Al Iaquinta, UFC 243
Image via @ufc on Instagram

Back in May, in the main event of UFC Ottawa, New York’s Al Iaquinta stepped into the cage with the dangerous Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Iaquinta’s objective was to gun down Cowboy and take a big step toward a shot at lightweight gold.

Unfortunately for Al Iaquinta and his team, this fight didn’t go as planned, as he was defeated by unanimous decision.

Speaking on the latest episode of BJPenn.com Radio, Iaquinta looked back on his fight with Cowboy and what went wrong inside the cage that night.

“I think that it was a lot of factors,” Iaquinta recounted. “I think that he’s just a real tough veteran that has been in there, and he caught me with some shots early and I had a hard time switching up the game plan and going on to plan B, plan C. I had the fight mapped out in my brain; how it was going to go, and when things weren’t going my way I didn’t really adjust like I had in the past. I think there was a whole bunch of different little things that affected my performance. I mean, I fought well. I landed some good stuff. There was just some little things that — I watched the fight with Ray [Longo] and Matt [Serra] after the fight — just little things that I think could have made a big difference. But in there, everything happens so fast, I wasn’t really able to slow things down in my mind and process them. I think I’ll do a better job of that, should that situation present itself again.”

As Iaquinta implies, this loss turned out to be a real learning experience. In fact, he’s looking at it as a pivotal moment in his career.

“I think that when it’s all said and done, that fight will be the fight that really propels me to greatness,” Iaquinta said. “I think that I was doing a lot of things that I was getting away with in previous fights, but against the veteran and a top guy like Cowboy, you can’t be doing. And I learned from it. 

“A fight like that, I think a lot of fighters would get discouraged and it could be a detriment to their career, but the way my mind works and the way my team and coaches, my family, everything, just the way we operate, it’s just a small little bit of adversity that — I mean things were going really good for me up until that fight. Coming off a big fight with Kevin Lee, a big win, not that I was looking past Cerrone in any sense, but just thinking, ‘Oh, you beat Cerrone, you’re looking at the top’ And this is kind of like a little wake-up call that I needed. And I reassessed things. I was on a great track, but just little things that could help. It’s a constant evolution. Keep learning, keep getting better. That’s all you can do is just look forward past it, learn from it. That’s it.”

Al Iaquinta will have the opportunity to apply the lessons he learned in his loss to Cowboy when he battles Dan Hooker on the main card of UFC 243 on October 6.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/13/2019.