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Al Iaquinta Talks UFC Troubles, Mental State Ahead Of Return

Former Ultimate Fighter runner-up Al Iaquinta explains where he was at mentally as a fighter during the COVID pandemic.

Former Ultimate Fighter runner-up Al Iaquinta returns to action against Bobby Green at UFC 268.

The fight will be his first since a 2019 loss to Dan Hooker. 

Overall, Iaquinta is 14-6 in his career, but just 1-3 in his last four fights. One of those was his 2018 loss to Khabib Nurmagonedov.

During his appearance on Submission Radio, Iaquinta touched on a number of subjects including announcing his own fight before the UFC and more. 

They didn’t like that I said that, but I also didn’t like the fact that they announced the fight without me signing the contract. I think they got a lot going on over there,” he said. “So, it was really like a little misunderstanding, and it all got cleared up. But yeah, they do that, they announce the fight sometimes before the contract’s signed. Yeah, it got all cleared up. I was happy and I’m looking forward to it now. Now it’s just, I’ve been training hard. That was like a month ago, probably longer now. So, I’ve been just focused, training. Bobby Green. November 6th. MSG. It doesn’t get much better than this. Come back with a crowd.”

Dealing with mental health

Iaquinta also explained that he was in a dark place for a long time during COVID.

“I went through a really bad time. It was like in the heat of Covid here in the United States. Things were crazy here. I was training really hard,” he said. “I did that grappling match with Mike Perry, and then right after that is when Covid kinda really hit. And I was just training with a couple of guys in the garage, and I wasn’t able to do my [physical therapy]. Like, I’m on a life sentence of physical therapy. As long as I do all my exercises, my body feels good.

“But with Covid and everything, the gyms shut down, we were just training in the garage, and I kind of slacked on the physical therapy exercises. So, my whole body got out of whack, and I kind of did a little more damage to my body and ended up having a surgery. Figured, I’m gonna have that surgery, so I might as well get my nose fixed too so I could breathe better. And it took a really long time for me to get back to feeling good.

“I went out to the UFC PI, and it was just like a month out there. I went for a whole month. I went five, six days a week. And I really didn’t see any results. It was kind of like, the more I worked out, the more pain I was in. and it was just mentally I was in a really, really bad spot. I mean, that’s like depressing, to just be in pain all the time. Wake up, and go to work out and you’re just in pain all the time. So, it was like a really dark time in my life. I had two surgeries, everything was locked down. It was really weird for me.

“Weird times. But I just kept working at it and things started opening back up. Went back to physical therapy. And really just worked, worked, just pushed through everything. And I started feeling good just about the time they announced that they were going to MSG. and I was like fuck it, let’s just sign up for a fight and force myself to get better.

“I was feeling better. Like, I saw a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel through the whole my body feeling the way it was. But I was just like, I’m gonna ask them to fight at MSG, and then I got no choice. Then I gotta do every single thing right all the time and just focus. And that’s what happened. And here we are just about four weeks out.”

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