By now, you’ve heard Al Iaquinta’s complaints about the UFC. According to highly placed UFC official, the rage is misplaced.
“The stories he’s telling are not true,” the official told MMAjunkie. “The premise for his whole beef is not accurate, and I think he’s trying to justify the fact that he thinks he should still get bonuses.”
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Iaquinta, 30, is riding a five-fight UFC winning streak and is No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings. Last month, he returned from a two-year layoff and destroyed future UFC Hall of Famer Diego Sanchez in just 98 seconds.
Despite the impressive performance, Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) wasn’t issued a fight-night bonus, sending him on an F-bomb-filled tirade (watch it above).
MMAjunkie confirmed with UFC officials that the bout was the first of a three-fight stretch for Iaquinta in which he’s not eligible to receive a $50,000 fight-night award. The order is a result of three incidents, which Iaquinta has previously discussed.
First, he destroyed a hotel room at MGM Grand in Las Vegas following a UFC 183 win over Joe Lauzon. In his next appearance, he cussed on national TV while addressing a belligerent crowd following a controversial split-decision win over Jorge Masvidal.
The final straw was no-showing a 2015 UFC fighter summit in Las Vegas. Iaquinta insisted he gave the company fair warning that he would not be attending, but UFC officials said that was not the case.
“His story about the summit, the part that he left out was that he never called us to tell us he didn’t get on the plane,” the UFC official told MMAjunkie. “He never called us to tell us not to send a car to the airport to pick him up. We had all these arrangements for the hotel. All these things were arranged, and he never bothered to call us to tell us he wasn’t coming, which I think would make anyone mad.
“We sent a car to the airport to pick him up, and he wasn’t there. He never called us to say, ‘I’m not coming.’ Not calling us, not telling us that he wasn’t going to show up, having to send a car to the airport to pick him up, literally, and him not being there – how immature is that? To not call and say, ‘I didn’t make the flight. I’m not coming.’ It’s immature.”
Iaquinta’s extended layoff was due in part to his frustration with the promotion and his contract, but a knee surgery also contributed to the time away from competition. It also contributed to complicating his relationship with his employers, with Iaquinta publicly proclaiming he had to “beg” the UFC to cover the cost of the procedure.
UFC brass contends that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It was a chronic injury, and since it was a chronic injury and not something that happened while training or fighting for us, the insurance denied it,” a UFC official told MMAjunkie. “There were also a number of alternatives that could have been done, but Al insisted on using a specific surgeon back east. The UFC paid tens of thousands of dollars to cover that out of our pocket without any obligation to do so since it was a chronic injury, which means it happened over years and years and years.
“Mr. Iaquinta never once called the medical team or (UFC President) Dana (White) to say thank you. Instead, he talks about how he had to beg for it, which is not true. … We agreed to do it. We paid for it. The entire medical team assisted through his surgeon getting this done and getting it paid, and Al never once called anyone to thank them. Instead he goes out on the Internet and says he had to beg for it, which is absolutely, 100 percent false. That’s a lie.”
Iaquinta’s manager, Dave Martin, wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by MMAjunkie.
Iaquinta’s next move is uncertain. Following his impressive win over Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 108, the fiery New Yorker said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue fighting when he could make the same money, if not more, in his burgeoning real estate business.
At 8-1 in his past nine UFC appearances, Iaquinta’s fighting talent is undeniable, but it’s apparent that his track record with the promotion is causing serious tension.
“Dana, (former UFC co-owner) Lorenzo (Feritta) and our team worked for weeks on this thing and were able to get him the surgery, and it was successful; instead of thanking us, he goes on the Internet and taunts Dana, who paid for it,” a UFC official said.”I think when Al learns to take responsibility for his actions, he’ll be a lot better off as a person.”
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