Conor McGregor brutally called out by Al Iaquinta after win over Kevin Lee
'Raging Al' took Khabib Nurmagomedov the distance at UFC 223, last April.
On 32 hours notice, earlier this year, Al Iaquinta agreed to a title fight against Nurmagomedov after first Tony Ferguson and then Max Holloway were forced to withdraw. If that wasn't crazy enough, this all took place amid the chaos of a fight week that saw Conor McGregor attack a bus carrying UFC fighters and staff.
On fight night itself, the Long Island native gave a fine account of himself but lost to a unanimous decision and had few complaints.
On Saturday, in Milwaukee, Iaquinta was back in The Octagon to take on a man he had handed a loss to on his UFC debut, Kevin Lee. 'The Motown Phenom' is much improved since that February 2014 bout and he took the fight to Iaquinta in a five-round main event.
Lee felt he won the first three rounds but the post-fight scorecards had him 2-1, according to two judges, while judge Chris Lee had him 2-1 behind. If he shaded the opening rounds, the first two were Iaquinta's. His trainer Ray Longo sent him back out for round four telling him he had to win the final two, and that he did.
Both fighters were confident of getting their arms raised at the end and Lee looked astonished when Iaquinta was declared the winner. One man who agreed with the call was the lightweight champion himself:
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) December 16, 2018
Following the fight, and with a perplexed Lee still in The Octagon, Iaquinta set his sights on a rematch with Nurmagomedov and dished out some uncomfortable truths to McGregor. He declared:
"With the right preparation and the right fight, I can beat anyone in the lightweight division.
"If Conor thinks he is getting a rematch before me, I think that's some nonsense. I'm the guy he has to get through if he wants a rematch. I'm the guy.
"No immediate rematch for him. He tapped out. I took it like a man on a weeks' notice. He had all the time in the world to prepare and he wanted a way out. I'm the f***ing guy in this division."
McGregor tapped to neck crank from 'The Eagle' at UFC 229 for the fourth submission loss of his career. He has said he is willing to fight another top contender in the division if he does not get a rematch with Nurmagomedov.
Iaquinta will climb the lightweight rankings to 5th or 6th and is back in the title picture.
A bout with McGregor would be one way to get back to Nurmagmedov, with Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson other options.