New Zealand’s Dan Hooker recently campaigned for a fight with Al Iaquinta, suggesting the meeting occur at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia, but ultimately moved on and accused Iaquinta of ducking him.
“He keeps saying he wants it; I said that’s the fight to make,” Hooker told MMA Junkie recently. “If I’m lying, the fight would be booked already.
“(Iaquinta is) not taking the fight; I’ll fight (Alexander) Hernandez.”
Speaking on MMA Junkie Radio on Thursday, Al Iaquinta responded to this claim from Hooker. He’s offering a different version of the story.
“The fight was never offered to me,” he said. “In fact, I was the one that offered it to Dan Hooker. And when Dan Hooker started talking all of his nonsense on Twitter, I was the one that offered the fight to the UFC. First, UFC — [the] matchmakers, higher-ups — they were under the impression that I wanted to fight somewhere else. But I love Australia. I’ve fought there before, and I loved it so much that I went back a second time and I taught seminars all along the East Coast of Australia. I would like to say, I’m pretty freakin’ Australian for an American.
“He did kind of throw the [matchup] out first,” Iaquinta continued. “He said my name after his fight [with James Vick], he had a great fight, big knockout win, and I think that’s the only reason I’m even entertaining this as a fight, because he did perform so well in his fight. He looked great. He’s a tough guy. I think he has a lot more skills than his rank [suggests] in the lightweight division. I don’t know what he’s ranked right now, but I’d say he’s up there. He’s a tough fight, and it would be in Australia. He might not even know how much the Australian people love me, and being from New Zealand I don’t know how they feel about him.
“I think it has all the makings to be a great fight,” he concluded. “I’m the one waiting for the call now. He’s the one saying that the UFC is telling him that I turned down the fight, but I was never offered the fight. In fact, I offered them the fight. Nobody came to me about it, I was the one that reached out to the UFC.”
Needless to say, Al Iaquinta seems to be up for the matchup — contrary to the impression Hooker is under.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/1/2019.