Al Iaquinta's credibility inside the octagon will one day be measured with his incredible performance against the undisputed king of the lightweight division, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
After raking up five back-to-back victories at one of the most competitive divisions, Al Iaquinta accepted a title shot against Khabib Nurmagomedov on one day's notice.
To the surprise of many, Al Iaquinta put up an impressive performance against arguably the most dominant fighters of all time. Iaquinta went the full five rounds with the champion, showing a great takedown defense to keep Khabib on his feet during the later stages of the fight.
There's a reason to believe that Al Iaquinta deserves more respect for his ground game and takedown defense, in particular. Iaquinta was able to escape nine takedown attempts from Khabib Nurmagomedov during his championship fight at UFC 223.
Khabib averaged just 40%, as he secured six takedowns out of his fifteen attempts. He was left with no option but to strike with Al Iaquinta, whose conditioning fell short for a five-round war against one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
While Khabib was able to control Al Iaquinta on the ground for the first couple of rounds, he fell short and had to rely on his striking to eventually pick up an impressive unanimous decision win for the belt.
Al Iaquinta: MMA veteran in his own right
Al Iaquinta's performance against Khabib Nurmagomedov on just one day's notice is testimoney to his ability as a fighter. Iaquinta went into the fight with victories over Jorge Masvidal, Joe Lauzon and Diego Sanchez, as well as raking up multiple wins over Kevin Lee.
Al Iaquinta has triumphed over Lee on both the ocassions that the fighters have squared off against each other inside the octagon. Lee is a seasoned wrestler, who likes to take the fight to the ground.
However, Al Iaquinta was able to keep the fight on foot, even against Lee. Having gone five rounds with the champion. Iaquinta has gone five rounds a total of five times inside the UFC octagon.
With over fourteen fights recorded, Al Iaquinta boasts an impressive takedown defense of 74%, despite having fought some of the most prominent names in the history of the lightweight division.
Having fought the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Donald Cerrone and Dan Hooker, Al Iaquinta has shown his mettle inside the octagon even against the most efficient strikers inside the UFC octagon.
With back-to-back losses at the hands of Donald Cerrone and Dan Hooker, Al Iaquinta will look to return to winning ways in his return fight.