Al Iaquinta's dream was to always fight in his home state of New York. That dream looks like it'll have to wait a little longer.
Unfortunately for Iaquinta, MMA hadn't been regulated until this year. In April, the sport became legalized and soon thereafter, the UFC booked their first show for UFC 205 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden.
It appeared the dream would come true for Iaquinta as he had verbally accepted a bout against Thiago Alves. Then the New York City native pulled himself from the card after looking over his contract and realizing he could no longer fight for the amount of money that was in his contract.
"I got the contract and I was just looking at it for a couple of days," Iaquinta told Fox Sports. "I was like I just can't sign it. I can't do it. "I felt like it wasn't right. I talked to my manager, I said listen I really want to fight in New York. There's nothing I want to do more than fight in New York, but I can't take a pay cut for this fight. I'm taking a pay cut from all of my sponsors. I'm taking a pay cut of all the last 18 months of the sponsors that could have been. I told (my manager) that I wanted more. I wanted to have a conversation with the UFC and see if they would do some kind of negotiation because when I signed my contract, there was no Reebok deal."
Iaquinta said he signed a four-fight deal before the Reebok deal started. Fighters are paid based on total number of fights in the UFC with payouts ranging from $2,500 up to $40,000 for being a champion.
Iaquinta was scheduled to make $5,000 under the Reebok deal at UFC 205. He said he made than that from one sponsor in past UFC fights and when the Reebok came about, the majority of his sponsors decided to no longer work with him except a few key endorsements which helped him get by since he has been inactive due to knee surgery.
For the Alves fight at UFC 205, Iaquinta was set to make $26,000 to show and another $26,000 if he emerged victorious. While admitting he signed the contract, he feels he outfought his out fought his deal since he is 29-years-old, has won four consecutive fights and is one of the most exciting fighters in the lightweight division.
Being gone for 18 months and how he feels he's been treated by the UFC has changed Iaquinta's perspective on how he views the sport. "Raging" is looking at the future instead of what is right in front of him.
"There's nothing left. I'm fighting for free," Iaquinta said about his guaranteed pay to fight in New York. "God forbid I get injured again and I've got nothing left because I spent it all on the last injury, keeping my head above water. If anything were to happen, there would be nothing left. It scared me. Even if I do win, I'm going to have to fight again in a couple of months. Am I going to be able to walk up a flight of stairs with my kids when I'm older? Am I going to be able to play with them? Probably not. Is it worth this money? No.
"Before these injuries I might have fought for $10 but you see things through a different spectrum. I thought my career was over. I got my personal training, I got my real estate license and I'm living comfortably. I don't need to fight now. If I did take this fight, I would have to stop everything else I was doing and I wouldn't make money and there's got to be some stability. After going through the injury, I thought my career was over. My whole perspective changed. I hope people can learn, this kind of thing can happen and I hope they see what happened to me. It can happen. It was definitely a scary scenario."
Fightful reached out to the UFC for comment regarding Iaquinta, and we're awaiting response.