Al Iaquinta is headlining UFC On Fox 31 next month and he faces Kevin Lee in a lightweight division bout on that night.
The New York native has previously fought UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223, but feels that Lee may be a tougher opponent in the end.
“Everything was correct about this and nothing was correct about the last one (a proposed bout with Justin Gaethje),” Iaquinta said to MMA Fighting. “It was like injuries, coming off that Khabib fight I was still banged up. It was quick. I wasn’t happy with a few other things. It just wasn’t right. This is definitely a better fight. I think it’s an intriguing matchup. Just everything. Everything about it, I like. He’s just as tough, if not tougher [than Gaethje]. He might even be just as tough, if not tougher than Khabib. I was sitting front row at his last fight with (Edson) Barboza and I was like, ‘Fuck, I don’t want to be Barboza right now.’ It was brutal, it was not fun to watch. So, I’m training my ass off. I want to be the one doing that to him, for sure.”
Iaquinta and Lee have fought once before, with Iaquinta scoring a unanimous decision victory at UFC 169.
That defeat as UFC 169 was also the first loss in Lee’s professional MMA career, a moment that Iaquinta said humbled his UFC On Fox 31 opponent.
“I definitely humbled him there and he changed his life,” Iaquinta said. “He moved to Vegas, he switched camps. I think I’ve been in the guy’s head for a while and he’s been looking forward to this. There’s two kind of ways this goes. He’s definitely put in the work — he’s all in. A guy willing to move to Las Vegas, because he thinks it’s a better team there is definitely serious. He’s coming to put it on me, I know that for sure.”
UFC On Fox 31 takes place on Saturday, December 15 from the Entertainment & Sports Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Al Iaquinta and Kevin Lee headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which airs live on Fox.