(Warning: Video contains strong language)
After UFC Fight Night concluded on Saturday night, the focus wasn’t on Cub Swanson’s statement victory over Artem Lobov – a win that may have cemented him as the next challenger to the featherweight title.
Instead, the attention centered around Al Iaquinta’s 98-second knockout victory over Diego Sanchez in the co-main event. It was his fifth consecutive win and it ran his UFC record to 8-2. He was returning to fight for the first time in two years after injuries and a brief retirement period where he was unhappy with his UFC contract.
After the card had concluded and the UFC didn’t give him a performance of the night bonus of $50,000 (the bonuses were awarded to Mike Perry and Brandon Moreno), Iaquinta went on an expletive-riddled tirade on Twitter with the gist being “[Expletive] you, UFC.”
On Monday afternoon, Iaquinta made an appearance on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani. If you thought the New York native would calm down in the 36-plus hours since the fight concluded, think again.
“If anything, I hate that even more now,” Iaquinta said. “Just not winning the bonuses, I don’t know. I don’t know whether they didn’t give it to me because I didn’t deserve it, or whether they didn’t give it to me to kind of shaft me, because they said in the past that I wasn’t eligible to win bonuses and maybe they’re just sticking it to me. The whole bonus thing is just ridiculous. The fact that they’re giving $50,000 bonuses, it’s like their little way to control everybody.
“I don’t understand how everyone just thinks that’s normal,” Iaquinta added. “Fifty-thousand dollar bonus — a bonus is like a little something extra. Fifty-thousand dollars is like three times some of these guys’ pay. That’s not a bonus. That’s like life-changing stuff. And oh, it looks great. But guess what? That’s their little way to control you. You’ve got to suck up to the man. You suck up to the man, you get on the mic, you thank Joe Silva, ‘Thank you guys, you guys are the best, thank you Dana White, thank you Lorenzo Fertitta,’ and those are the guys who get the bonuses. So it’s their little way. Like, ‘Kiss my ass and I’ll give you a little scrap.’
“But I don’t have to do that anymore. I don’t care. I took time out of my life to set myself up to where I don’t have to suck up to anybody, and I can do it my way. And if I want to fight again, I’ll fight. And if not, I’m not the guy who’s kissing up to the UFC.”
Iaquinta told MMAFighting.com that he was banned from receiving bonuses after an incident with UFC officials over an Instagram post last year. Iaquinta apparently posted a picture of himself at the beach in between training sessions after asking to be excused from a Fighters Summit conference because he was scheduled to fight around that time.
If Iaquinta’s version of the story is true, then it’s classless of the UFC to hold a grudge like that over a social media post. Fighters have done worse things like testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs and still received performance bonuses.
Iaquinta should be upset at not receiving a bonus after Saturday’s card. He put on the best performance of the evening, plain and simple. He became the first fighter to ever knock out Sanchez and the second fighter to stop him via strikes.
With his win over Sanchez, including his show and win money and Reebok apparel compensation, Iaquinta made a total of $52,000. He will receive significantly less than that after taxes are taken out and he pays his training team.
The runner-up of season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” thinks it’s lousy that a fighter with such a high placement on the show would earn so little.
Iaquinta proceeded to go on a tirade, calling out White for his comments on UFC 208 and what he felt was the best performance of the night.
“Is that crazy? I’m a professional freakin’ athlete who just was on TV, FOX Sports 1 co-main event, and $50,000 is what I walk away with,” Iaquinta said. “Are you kidding me?
“Dana White has done a lot for this sport, but he’s not gotten one injury from this sport. And for him to say, ‘The best part of UFC Brooklyn was the flight home’ — you’re on a private jet, bro. Shut the [expletive] up. You’re on a private jet. Most people, that would be the highlight of their life. Forget the night. You’re on a private jet, of course it’s the highlight of your night. Two guys are fighting in a cage, getting hurt. Jim Miller probably couldn’t [walk]. Who was the leg kicks, someone was getting their [expletive] leg kicked in? [White] owes an apology to all those [expletive]. That’s some [expletive]. Shut your [expletive] mouth.”
Iaquinta has every right to say what he feels, but what is he trying to accomplish here?
In the interview on Monday’s show, Iaquinta advocated for a fighter’s union, feeling they should all have a voice in what goes on in the UFC.
“The fighters have to have a voice in something, even just something like the weigh-ins,” Iaquinta exclaimed. “The morning weigh-ins, some guys love it, some guys don’t. Like, what? It should be up to the fighters. In some way, in some capacity, there’s gotta be someone asking, ‘How do you feel? How do you feel after a morning weigh-in? How does it feel to cut weight all night and then hold your weight and weigh-in in the morning and get a certain amount of time to recover? Rehydration, these things, stuff like that. The fighters, we need to be heard. It’s gotta be our time now.
“I don’t want to be that guy, but we need to do something. What are we doing? This is dumb. They want the Reebok sponsorship because they want to be like the NFL, but they don’t want to be like the NFL because there’s no union, but you can’t even ask them about a union because they go right around the question. Ask Dana White about a union. He’ll come with the same answer every time. ‘Oh, well they can’t unionize because they’re independent contractors.’ Right around it. Why doesn’t he talk about it? He’s doing an interview with Megan Olivi, I guarantee they don’t talk about that. He’s done everything for the sport, now it’s time to do something for the fighters.”
That is a good way to start. A fighter’s union is something that does need to happen in the future and hopefully fighters can put their egos aside to make it happen.
Let’s remember though: Iaquinta retired because he was unhappy with his pay and went on to become a real estate agent. No one forced him to come back to the UFC. He could have stay retired, continued to sell real estate and moved on with the rest of his life.
The 29-year-old has two more fights on his UFC contract and said it was “probable” he won’t be back for awhile due his issues with the company.
With his fiery demeanor, Iaquinta’s “Raging” nickname is apropos. If he wants to fight the good fight for others, he should stay active and live up to his moniker.
It’s easy to talk while you are on the sidelines. But if he wants to invoke change, being on the forefront and voicing his concerns is the way to make people take notice.
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