Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Al Iaquinta Fires Back At Dan Hooker’s Ducking Claims

UFC lightweight Al Iaquinta isn’t having any of Dan Hooker’s accusations.

‘The Hangman’ recently got back into the win column by knocking out James Vick at July 20’s UFC San Antonio. Afterward, he challenged the lightweight division to meet him in Australia for October’s UFC 243. Top challenger Iaquinta quickly responded he was on board for the bout.

However, Hooker soon claimed that Iaquinta had been offered the fight and turned it down while boasting on social media. He told MMA Junkie he had another opponent lined up:

“He keeps saying he wants it; I said that’s the fight to make. If I’m lying, the fight would be booked already. (Iaquinta is) not taking the fight; I’ll fight (Alexander) Hernandez.”

Iaquinta Responds

Iaquinta lashed back on MMA Junkie Radio today (via BJPENN.com), noting that he was the one who actually brought up the fight to the UFC. He said he did so because he loves Australia:

“The fight was never offered to me. In fact, I was the one that offered it to Dan Hooker. And when Dan Hooker started talking all of his nonsense on Twitter, I was the one that offered the fight to the UFC. First, UFC — [the] matchmakers, higher-ups — they were under the impression that I wanted to fight somewhere else.

“But I love Australia. I’ve fought there before, and I loved it so much that I went back a second time and I taught seminars all along the East Coast of Australia. I would like to say, I’m pretty freakin’ Australian for an American.”

More Australian Fans?

Iaquinta then circled back and acknowledged that Hooker called him out after knocking out Vick. “Ragin’ Al” said Hooker is a tough competitor who should perhaps be ranked higher. But the praise soon ended, as Iaquinta said Australian fans may like him better than the New Zealand-based Hooker:

“He did kind of throw the [match-up] out first, he said my name after his fight [with James Vick], he had a great fight, big knockout win, and I think that’s the only reason I’m even entertaining this as a fight because he did perform so well in his fight. He looked great, he’s a tough guy. I think he has a lot more skills than his rank [suggests] in the lightweight division. I don’t know what he’s ranked right now, but I’d say he’s up there.

“He’s a tough fight, and it would be in Australia. He might not even know how much the Australian people love me, and being from New Zealand I don’t know how they feel about him.”

Finally, Iaquinta threw it back to Hooker by saying he was supposedly waiting for the call to sign the fight. Iaquinta is sticking to the stance that he was the one who originally brought it up to his employers:

“I think it has all the makings to be a great fight. I’m the one waiting for the call now. He’s the one saying that the UFC is telling him that I turned down the fight, but I was never offered the fight. In fact, I offered them the fight. Nobody came to me about it, I was the one that reached out to the UFC.”

Which fighter is telling the truth in this game of cat and mouse?

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