Tenth-ranked lightweight Al Iaquinta will step back into the UFC cage for only the second time in three years, when he meets Paul Felder at UFC 223 on April 7th. And after years of criticising the UFC for how little he is getting paid, this time he finally stands to earn his market value.
Al Iaquinta Back at UFC 223; UFC “rips up” Old Contract
Speaking to MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour earlier this week, “Raging” elaborated on a number of subjects, none more intriguing than how he pressured the UFC into “ripping up” his old contract and giving him a new one.
According to Al Iaquinta, after he had to pull out of the originally booked fight with Felder, he called matchmaker Sean Selby and explained “for the tenth time” why he couldn’t justify the physical risks for such a small amount of compensation. Selby asked Iaquinta to give him a number that would make him happy, and the Long Island native responded – $80,000 to show and $50,000 to win. Selby said yes, agreeing to what Iaquinta ambiguously referred to a “one-fight deal” in the “mind[s]” of the UFC and himself, and the match-up was made public shortly afterwards.
“I know what I’m worth”, the part-time real estate agent reasoned, doubling down on previous appraisals of the UFC pay structure: “I think guys should be getting paid three times as much as they’re getting, for guys challenging for a title not getting a million dollars is insane”.
“Can you imagine fighting Paul Felder on my old contract? Fuck that. Are you nuts? No way”, he also stated.
In acquiring his new deal, Iaquinta joins the likes of Max Holloway and Stipe Miocic, who also endured periods of inactivity while waiting for an appropriate offer from the UFC. After winning the featherweight belt at UFC 212, Holloway asserted he would not defend the title until he got his “fair shake”, eventually agreeing to terms before he signed on to fight Frankie Edgar at UFC 218 (Edgar, of course, pulled out due to injury; paving the way for a Jose Aldo rematch which Holloway won via TKO). Miocic took a similar stand after he defended his heavyweight belt at UFC 211 by knocking our Junior Dos Santos, although it is unclear whether his contract was restructured before taking on Francis Ngannou at UFC 220 last month.
UFC 223 goes down at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 7th and is headlined by an undisputed(?) lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov.