Al Iaquinta and Khabib Nurmagomedov met for the vacant UFC Lightweight Title at UFC 223, with Nurmagomedov earning a decision win on that night.
The New York native took the fight at UFC 223 on a few days notice, but believes he could defeat Nurmagomedov with a full training camp.
“I beat him,” Iaquinta said on BJPenn.com Radio (via Milan Ordonez of Bloody Elbow). “Not just like try to land a punch, you know? I’d go out there and I’d wrestle. I’d really just go for it more. I feel like I was a little reserved. The five rounds, I had never even really gone five rounds, trained for five rounds, so that was in the back of my head. I didn’t really want to exert myself like crazy because I had been sparring three rounds, and at the end of the three rounds I was getting pretty exhausted,” he added. “It was uncharted territory. Now, five rounds is to my advantage. The longer the fight goes, the better it is for me. I think that it’ll be an advantage now rather than, being five rounds that fight [with Nurmagomedov], it was a little bit of a disadvantage. If I had even just like five weeks to prepare. But if you gave me a 10-week camp for a Khabib fight, and I had the time to prepare for him, for his style, prepare my mind. Obviously he would be doing the same thing, but I think that I would make way more of an improvement than he would.”
Iaquinta is ranked #4 in the UFC lightweight division, so he is close to another shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Up next for Iaquinta is a bout against Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC Fight Night Ottawa, a bout that Iaquinta believes could set him up for a title shot.
“If I was running the show, I’d beat Cerrone, and then I’d give myself a title shot,” Iaquinta said. “You told me I’m running the show, so it’s my show, you know?”
UFC Fight Night Ottawa takes place on Saturday, May 4 from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with Al Iaquinta and Donald Cerrone headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on ESPN+.