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Iaquinta has won five straight fights for the UFC dating back to 2014 (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

Local Athletes

Wantagh’s Al Iaquinta will look to save UFC 223 by facing Khabib Nurmagomedov

Once scheduled to face Paul Felder, Long Island’s “Raging Al” is ready to main event against “The Eagle”

It appears a wild two days for the UFC will finally come to an end, and right before showtime. Al Iaquinta has been chosen to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at the Barclays Center. MMAJunkie was the first to report the news.

Originally scheduled to face Paul Felder, Iaquinta (13-3-1) was an option for Khabib after Max Holloway was deemed not medically fit to compete. He was the best option after Anthony Pettis and Felder were rejected by New York State officials and the UFC. The 30-year old Long Islander, who is also a real estate agent, is currently on a five-fight winning streak. His last fight was last April, knocking out Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 118. The new opportunity means that the second time won’t be the charm for a Iaquinta v. Felder bout. The former had to back out of their first expected bout at UFC 218 due to injury.

There is one small caveat for this fight: Due to Iaquinta weighing in at 155.2, he is not eligible to fight for the Lightweight Title. That was with his underwear on, and he did not go the Daniel Cormier route with the towel. If Khabib (25-0) was to win, he would become the champion. It is another obstacle for Iaquinta in the UFC. He has reported to several outlets that he is not allowed fight-night bonuses at events. A win by him would bring chaos to the UFC once again. He would get the main event, but not the prize that comes with it. Another unfortunate piece of business in the MMA world.

It appears that Felder will not get a replacement opponent. That will leave the UFC 223 card at nine fights, after several bouts were cancelled due to the Conor McGregor fiasco on Thursday.

While it is a big difference between fights and a bigger opponent in Khabib, Iaquinta is certainly up to the challenge. Speaking with Newsday, Iaquinta discussed his work ethic and how his two jobs compare to one another.

“To be ranked No. 10 in the world, in anything, you know how to get good at whatever you do. If I put that work ethic toward whatever I’m doing, if it’s real estate, I know I’ll be successful.”

“Raging Al” will look to use his skills and amplify it to the next level as a new opponent steps in his way to greatness. Even without a title on the line for him, Iaquinta can go from a guy on the card to THE guy the UFC has been waiting for. He can represent the area that the UFC has been trying to put on the best cards for.

After what seemed like an eternity, UFC 223 is back on track. Hometown pride and an undefeated streak will be the story in Brooklyn. The past few days has shown us that anything can happen. Can UFC 223 rebound and once again become a must-see event for the ages?

Daniel Yanofsky

Daniel Yanofsky

Daniel is a Managing Editor at DoubleGSports.com, and covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). He is also the lead New York Mets writer. When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a Sunday podcast, The Main Event.
Daniel Yanofsky

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    1. Pingback: The Main Event, Episode 3 - Conor McGregor drama and UFC 223 Preview (Audio) • Double G Sports

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