Al Iaquinta survived a tough opening round against Jorge Masvidal, before rallying to earn a split decision victory at UFC Fight Night 63, then went off at the crowd for booing the judges verdict.
Circling to start this one. Iaquinta with a one-two. Masvidal with a light leg kick. Another misses and Iaquinta scores with one. Jab from Masvidal. Iaquinta thinks about a single leg but doesn’t commit to it.
Iaquinta with a combination of kicks and punches low and high. Body kick from Iaquinta that’s partially blocked and then another that lands.
Big flying knee from Masvidal which Iaquinta almost uses to transition to a takedown.
Masvidal with a body kick. Half-way through the round and Masvidal continues to work behind the jab as Iaquinta tries to lead the dance.
Left hand gets through from Iaquinta. Nice left hook from Madvidal. Iaquinta with a leg kick. He tries an overhand right, but Masvidal is out of range and likewise when a head kick comes his way.
Iaquinta fakes a takedown and instead opts for an uppercut that misses. Leg kick from Iaquinta then upstairs doesn’t connect.
Masvidal with a spinning kick that doesn’t quite land fully. exchange in close and Iaquinta gets caught with a left and right and he pulls guard. He tries for a heel hook, but Masvidal stays calm, rolls until he’s free and chuckles as he stands back up.
Masvidal up for this now and comes forward aggressively, connecting with a right hand that wobbles Iaquinta to the mat. He’s looking to flurry now. Dangerous moments for Iaquinta but he survives to the end of the round, though is face is bloodied.
Masvidal back to a more measured pace to start the second avoiding some, but not all of Iaquinta’s punches. Masvidal tries a head kick, but goes off-balance.
Body kick from Masvidal and a leg kick in return from Iaquinta who’s got a trail of blood streaming down below his right eye.
Iaquinta with leg kicks and then connects with a right hand. Iaquinta tries a single leg then lets go and lands a little combination.
Left and a right from Masvidal. He’s back to working the jab mid-way through the round. He tries a crescent kick that doesn’t pay off. Front kick comes up short too.
Straight right lands for Masvidal and knocks Iaquinta off-balance, but he doesn’t appear to be hurt.
Iaquinta in on a takedown attempt, but Masvidal stuffs it inside the final minute of the round.
Leg kick from Masvidal and Iaquinta returns it. Iaquinta trying to get a late takedown, but Masvidal stuffs it comfortably. Masvidal opting to cruise for most of this round, will be interesting to see whether he steps things up again in the final five minutes.
Leg kicks from Iaquinta. Flying knee attempt from Masvidal. Body kick does connect though.
Punches miss but the leg kick connects for Iaquinta. Another kick. Masvidal with a few jabs then tries a kick, but gets countered with a punch from his opponent.
Masvidal’s lead leg is noticeably red from the repeated leg kicks. He lands a solid body kick. Iaquinta with a kick and then another that’s caught by Masvidal who brushes him aside.
Head kick misses from Masvidal. Solid leg kick from Iaquinta. Jabs from Masvidal. Masvidal needs to keep his workrate higher as these last couple of rounds are close.
A lull in the action and then Iaquinta lands a big right hand. Iaquinta launches into a sweep that doesn’t pay off. He’s trying to land punches but is off-balance.
Iaquinta trying to push the pace here though with more offense. Body kick from Masvidal. Iaquinta hurling offense and occasionally getting clipped by a left hook.
Masvidal jumps into a body kick. Iaquinta pressing forward aggressively landing solidly to the leg and some punches in their too. Good end to the round for him and it’ll be interesting to see how the judges score this. Technically Masvidal was more technical and accurate, but Iaquinta’s work rate may appeal to the judges.
The judges have made their decision and they are split on who won, but it’s Iaquinta who gets the nod from two out of three to get the hard earned victory (29-28 x2, 27-30).
The crowd don’t like it and start booing as Iaquinta gets ready for his post-fight interview. Iaquinta doesn’t like that at all and when the interview starts he angrily shouts back at the crowd. Jon Anik tries to get the interview back on course, but Iaquinta, living up to his ‘raging’ nickname is still seething and opts to just walk out of the Octagon!
The boos were unkind, Iaquinta worked hard to come back from a tough end to the first round, but he should have kept his thoughts to himself. The fighter who should be angry though is Masvidal – not so much at the judges, but at himself for taking his foot off the gas for the final 10 minutes of the fight. He wins style points for his crisp, technical work, but more action was needed on this occasion to convince the judges.