Ladies and gentlemen, Al Iaquinta is back. Following a two-year layoff due to injuries and a contract dispute with the UFC, Iaquinta returned on Saturday night with a monstrous performance to put away Diego Sanchez with a vicious first round knockout.
Originally scheduled to return last November, Iaquinta opted not to fight in his home state of New York as he looked to renegotiate his contract with the UFC and instead opted to start his own real estate business while he was out of action.
Iaquinta was eventually offered the matchup with Sanchez and that was the right enticement to bring him back to the table with a chance to compete against someone he respected long before he even decided to become a fighter.
The matchup was immediately pegged as a potential barn burner with “Fight of the Night” written all over it, but Iaquinta wasn’t looked to get paid by the hour in his first bout back in two years.
Following a couple of exchanges on the feet, Iaquinta saw an opening to unleash a hellish right hand that connected flush on Sanchez’s jaw as his legs turned to Jell-O and he folded in half down to the mat.
Sanchez has always been known for his incredible heart and durability so he got back to his feet, but Iaquinta had no plans of allowing the fight to make it to the second round so he threw one more crushing right hand that sent “The Ultimate Fighter” season one winner back to the ground.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) April 23, 2017
Referee John McCarthy saw enough and quickly stepped in to stop the carnage at 1:38 into the first round.
Iaquinta may have been away for two years, but the victory over Sanchez actually marked his fifth win in a row overall. As happy as he was to get back in action, Iaquinta still let the UFC know that they need to have a conversation in the near future.
“UFC, the sooner you realise I’m the man, the better off we’ll both be,” Iaquinta said following his victory.
Meanwhile, Sanchez has alternated wins and losses over his last six fights while suffering his second TKO in his past three performances.