When Al Iaquinta heard Dan Hooker shout his name for a fight at UFC 243

Instead, the native immediately responded by telling the that he would absolutely take that fight even if it meant traveling halfway around the world to get it.

None of that mattered much to Iaquinta, who fell in love with during a trip there in 2014, and he was actually rather excited to go back.

Ross Pearson

Another factor that played a part in his decision was the opportunity to face an opponent like Hooker, who has gone 5-1 in his past six fights with all five wins coming by either knockout or submission.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in his last fight. As much as he wanted to win, that loss woke Iaquinta up to some of the mistakes he had been making in training as well as his fights that have now been corrected.

“That fight put a lot in perspective for me,” Iaquinta said. “I learned a lot. I re-focused. I thought I was going to beat ‘Cowboy’ and then I was going to be right up there, top-3 for a title shot. He went on to fight Tony Ferguson and I thought that was going to be me. There were different plans. I learned a lot.

“I got back to some things that I really needed to work on and tune up and I think I’m in a way better spot—the best spot I’ve been in mentally, physically in every way. I think that was a big wake-up call. When it’s all said and done, we’ll look back and that will be the fight where after that one, that’s the one that really changed things and it was all up from there.”

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