When Al Iaquinta heard Dan Hooker shout his name for a fight at UFC 243 in Australia, he didn’t blink or balk at the call-out.

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

Fighters travel to all sorts of locations across the globe, but it’s not everyday that someone volunteers for that duty, especially in Iaquinta’s case where he’s a more established contender in the lightweight division and he’s heading to Hooker’s backyard.

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

“I fought in Australia before against Ross Pearson, who is kind of an adopted Australian. I think he lives most of his time spent in Australia and that was a great experience for me,” Iaquinta explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I ended up going back either the following year or two years later, I had made connections with a bunch of gyms that taught seminars and did seminars around Sydney.

“So I’ve spent a lot of time around there, I really enjoy it in Australia. The people there are really cool. They work hard, they play hard, kind of similar to how I try to live my life.”

Iaquinta’s love affair with Australia is so strong, he might even get a house there one day.

“It’s starting to get a little cold in the mornings here in New York but over in Australia it’s starting to get warmer,” Iaquinta said. “My end goal in life is the spend six months of the year in Long Island and the second it gets a little too cold, I go to my future house in Australia and I spend the summer there.

“It’s like the endless summer. I’ll take any opportunity I can to get over there.”

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.

There’s not much of a chance that Hooker is going to try to slow the pace or grind Iaquinta against the cage for 15 minutes while attempting to squeak out a judges’ decision.

“I think it is [a perfect opponent]. That’s why I was so eager to take this fight,” Iaquinta explained. “He’s a tough opponent. His last fight with Vick, he put him out pretty quick. He’s getting better, he’s evolving as a fighter and that excites me.

“I think it’s going to be electrifying. They said upwards of 50 or 60,000 people [in attendance] so I’m excited for this.”

In addition to the matchup and location appealing to him, Iaquinta wants to show the improvements he’s made since falling to 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.

Now as he prepares for UFC 243, Iaquinta feels like he’s the best he’s ever been and he’s actually ready to make a real run at the title in the near future.

“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.”