Former Ultimate Fighter winner Al Iaquinta appeared to be well on his way to a fourth straight victory this past May at UFC 173 when he was inside the Octagon with Mitch Clarke.
In one swift moment, though, that was taken away, as Clarke locked up a D’arce choke and scored a second round submission victory.
Iaquinta gets his chance to post a fourth UFC victory this Friday night when he takes on Rodrigo Damm in the FOX Sports 1 prelim main event at UFC Fight Night 50.
For the Serra-Longo fighter, getting right back into action was the only thing to do. But, he also made sure to look back at the Clarke contest and figure out what went right – and what went wrong.
“After the May fight, I needed to try to get back in the mix as soon as I could,” said Iaquinta, in an interview with FightLine. “I was extremely unhappy with the outcome of that one. I have watched the Clarke fight a bunch of times since and I saw how great I looked up until the ending.
“I watched that choke a bunch, learned it and learned how to escape it.”
With a camp that has current UFC middleweight champion Al Iaquinta and countless others in it, Iaquinta (8-3-1) has been getting nothing but the best training in preparation for Damm.
“Training has been great for this fight,” he said. “Everyone has been in the gym helping each other prepare. There is a great energy in the gym.”
Damm (12-7) had his two-fight win streak snapped in May when he dropped a decision to Rashid Magomedov. The Brazilian has been around MMA since 2004, taking on the likes of Gilbert Melendez and Jorge Masvidal.
“I remember Rodrigo from back in the Strikeforce days,” Iaquinta said. “I am excited to get in and fight him.”
The first seven fights of Iaquinta’s pro career took place in New Jersey, where he also earned a February victory over Kevin Lee. He’s fought in England, Wisconsin and twice in Las Vegas, but sticking close to home always makes competing a little sweeter.
“I enjoy having fights close to home,” he said. “All my family and friends have an easier time getting to the fight and I really love it when they are all there.”
Matt Serra, one of Iaquinta’s main trainers and a former UFC champion, recently made his debut as an analyst on FOX Sports 1. The 27-year-old was impressed by a friend and coach.
“My favorite was watching him break down fighter skill set leading into a fight,” Iaquinta said. “You can see he really did his research and knows the sport inside and out.”