Al Iaquinta Earns Hard Fought Decision Over Kevin Lee in Final UFC on FOX Main Event
Nearly five years have passed since their first fight but Al Iaquinta still ended his rematch against Kevin Lee with the same result in the final UFC on FOX main event from Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Iaquinta showcased a strong striking attack coupled with great ground defense to outwork Lee over five rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory and likely put himself into the top five of the lightweight division when the new rankings are released.
Heading into the fight, Lee had said a lot about how much he learned since first facing Iaquinta in his UFC debut at just 21 years of age and accepting the bout on just three weeks notice.
The confidence showed in the early going as Lee seemed more than willing to engage with Iaquinta on the feet despite the fact that his ground game has always been his most effective weapon. Still, Lee looked solid early but as time ticked away into reach passing round, it was Iaquinta’s constant boxing combinations that started to wear on the Detroit native.
Lee did manage a huge takedown and a near rear naked choke submission in the second round but Iaquinta showed incredible patience to eventually work his way free.
While it was a back and forth war early, Iaquinta really started to surge in the ‘championship’ rounds as he turned up the pressure in the fourth and fifth while Lee started to fade a bit.
Iaquinta was masterful with his striking attacks, constantly pursuing Lee around the cage and landing with both power and accuracy. Lee refused to go away but with each shot that connected, he was definitely starting to absorb more punishment than he was giving in return.
By the end of the fifth round, Iaquinta looked like he was ready for another 25 minutes while still cracking Lee with combinations when the horn sounded. Afterwards, Iaquinta got right in Lee’s faced and let out a primal scream obviously happy with his performance and confident he was walking away with a victory.
The judges agreed with scores coming back 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 all in favor of Iaquinta.
Following the statement win, Iaquinta quickly turned his attention to former two division champion Conor McGregor, who has been asking for a rematch against Khabib Nurmagomedov after falling to him by submission back in October.
Iaquinta managed to go five rounds with Nurmagomedov in April after accepting a fight with him on 24 hours notice and it seems he likes the idea of making McGregor earn a rematch by going through him instead.
“With the right preparation, with the right fight, I can beat anybody in the lightweight division,” Iaquinta said. “If Conor [McGregor] thinks he’s getting a rematch [with Khabib Nurmagomedov] before me I think that’s some nonsense. I think I’m the guy he’s gotta get through if he wants to get a rematch. I’m the guy. No immediate rematch for him. He tapped out, I took it like a man on a week’s notice.
“He had all the time in the world to prepare and he wanted a way out.”
It was a huge win for Iaquinta, who is now 6-1 in his past seven fights with the lone loss coming to Nurmagomedov earlier this year. While he’s probably not back in title contention just yet, Iaquinta proved he’s a top five lightweight with his latest win and he’ll undoubtedly be staring down a big fight when he returns in 2019.