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15th Dec 2018

Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta overcome incredibly awkward handshake for intense staredown

Patrick McCarry

Kevin Lee Al Iaquinta

They got there in the end.

The top of the UFC’s lightweight division is getting extremely crowded and Max Holloway may yet be joining the party in 2019.

There are a stack of hungry fighters lining up for a tilt at the title but the division has been held up due to legal and disciplinary issues, following on from the UFC 229 brawl sparked by Khabib Nurmagomedov and that saw Conor McGregor get involved.

Two men hoping to propel themselves into the title picture are Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta. ‘Raging Al’ lost his title shot, earlier this year, when he stepped up at very late notice to take on Nurmagomedov.

Lee, meanwhile, fought for the interim belt in 2017 but was defeated by Tony Ferguson, who since lost that strap after Nurmagomedov was declared the “undisputed” champ.

‘Booting his ass’

‘The Motown Phenom’ fought Iaquinta on his UFC debut but he lost out on the judges’ scoring cards, with Iaquinta taking the unanimous decision. Ahead of their rematch, in Milwaukee, Lee told reporters:

“Me and him just don’t really mesh together. We’re just two different types of people.

“I just don’t like his style. I just don’t dig him too much. I just feel like his voice is already big enough – the world needs no more Al Iaquintas. So I’m doing a good job of booting his ass up out of here.”

The two men faced off for the final time ahead of their December 15 date in The Octagon when, last night, they showed up for the ceremonial weigh-in and staredowns.

A tense situation almost kicked off when Lee dropped his hand as Iaquinta was reaching out to shake it. The New Jersey native flared up but Lee calmed him down by reaching out for a proper hand shake.

Crisis averted, but that still led to a pretty intense face-off between the opponents.

This one should be a cracker.

Whomever gets the win will be right in the mix for a 2019 run at the belt.