Al Iaquinta: What’s Next for Raging Al?

Al Iaquinta
(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

With the announcement that Dustin Poirier will challenge Max Holloway for the interim UFC lightweight championship, there is an odd man out at lightweight. No, Tony Ferguson isn’t the odd man out. It seems like he was offered the title fight and declined. The odd man out is fan favorite Al Iaquinta. There are a few options that Iaqunita could consider, but his original plans have likely changed.

What’s Next for Al Iaquinta?

Original Plans

Al Iaquinta is an interesting man to follow on Twitter. There’s plenty of comedic content, but he also talks about his career. Recently, there have been two people that Raging Al has been talking about the most. Those two men are Poirier and Ferguson. Iaquinta had this to say when Poirier had tweeted about the two potentially fighting.

As it turns out, Poirier did get a different deal. But, it definitely wasn’t the different deal that Iaquinta had been looking for.

Tony Ferguson has long been on the receiving ends of Al Iaquinta’s jokes on twitter. This dates back long before this lightweight log jam was on our hands. When Ferguson was being called the odd man out of the title picture, Iaquinta responded with one simple emoji.

The same night, Iaquinta retweeted UFC welterweight Michael Chiesa‘s tweet that said “I’m super pumped for Al Iaquinta and Tony Ferguson.” So, based on Iaquinta’s twitter account, it has been clear that both Ferguson and Poirier have been on his mind since he defeated Kevin Lee in December.

The only other guy that Al Iaquinta has been talking about is Conor McGregor. But, with talks picking up about him fighting Donald Cerrone sometime in the summer, that option is likely off the table for Iaquinta, too.

Tony Ferguson

With the remaining options, it would make the most sense for Tony Ferguson to be Al Iaquinta’s next opponent. But, by now we know that the things that make the most sense aren’t always the things that happen. The issue with potentially fighting Ferguson is that there’s always the chance that the UFC could have Ferguson fight Khabib Nurmagomedov when the champ returns from suspension.

Usually, the returning champ’s first fight back would be against the interim champion. But, with fans dying to see Ferguson and Nurmagomedov finally square off, a unification bout might get put on hold. This, in turn, could mess up Al Iaquinta’s future plans. If in fact the plan is for Nurmagomedov’s next fight to be with Ferguson, then the UFC likely won’t have Ferguson fight until then. There’s no reason for the UFC to risk Ferguson being injured or losing a fight, which would likely prevent the biggest fight to make in the division from happening. This is all speculation, but if it comes to fruition, we likely won’t see Al Iaquinta fight Tony Ferguson.

Gaethje/Barboza Winner

According to the rankings, the only other fight that would make sense for Iaquinta would be the winner of Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje. They are currently ranked sixth and seventh in the division, respectfully. Either guy could find themselves in the top five with a win. With Al Iaquinta currently ranked fourth, this fight would make most sense from a rankings standpoint.

The issue here arises with Iaquinta’s desire to fight up in the rankings, as he explained after defeating Lee. As previously explained, all the fighters above him are tied up or will likely be tied up soon. It would be a treat if Iaquinta would be fine with fighting down in the rankings, as either of these two guys matched up with Iaquinta would make for a phenomenal fight. He and Gaethje were scheduled to fight before, and fans were excited. However, after stepping in to face Nurmagomdeov on a day’s notice, and then his incredible performance against Lee, it is hard to blame Iaquinta for only wanting to fight up in the rankings. Whatever ends up being next for Al Iaquinta, we know it will be exciting, and we will all be tuning in.

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