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Coach: Al Iaquinta ‘mentally bummed out’ after UFC 243 loss to Hooker but wants to ‘get back on track’ as soon as possible

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Al Iaquinta suffered another big setback at UFC 243, dropping a lopsided unanimous decision to Dan Hooker in the co-main event at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.

The fight marked ‘Raging Al’s’ second straight loss, as the New Yorker previously lost to MMA veteran Donald Cerrone in a competitive five-round affair at UFC on ESPN+ 9 this past May.

Iaquinta suffered a nasty series of leg kicks against Hooker and it was initially reported that the 32-year-old would be medically suspended for up to six months.

According to head coach Ray Longo, however, Al’s leg is just fine but the 10-year UFC veteran is ‘mentally bummed out’ and will look to get back on the winning track as soon as possible.

“His leg is fine,” Longo told MMA Fighting in a recent interview. “That’s number one. I guess there’s that nerve that runs down the leg, it definitely had a big impact on the fight. But it’s not like broke or anything like that. I guess it comes back in a day or two.

“The leg is fine, he’s mentally bummed out, it’s to be expected. He’s the type of guy that wants to just work hard and get back in the gym right away and get back on track.”

Iaquinta’s last two losses have come to much taller opponents and Longo admits that it’s an area in which both he and Al need to work on in the gym.

“It looks like he’s having trouble with the taller guys, for sure,” Longo said. “Because Cerrone is a big ‘55er and this guy was tall, so that’s something we’ll have to address. That’s the first thing I’m gonna address as a coach. The height, and we did have tall sparring partners, so I’ve got to really look at it.

“And with this fight I think the first calf kick really had a big impact on him and then when he went for the takedown, he took some elbows to the head. After the first round, he was really fighting out of a pretty big deficit that some guys might not even have made it out of that first round, so he’s definitely tough. Tactically, it was good what Hooker did. But again, we gotta move on from it.”

Following his loss to Hooker, Iaquinta dropped two places from #6 to #8 in the official UFC lightweight rankings. Expect the SerraLongo product to return to the UFC in the new year.


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