UFC Ottawa: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Ontario, Canada.
Updated: May 2, 2019 • 11:56 AM ET
Donald Cerrone (center) continues to fight at a high level.
The UFC will be in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for the second time in company history this Saturday and feature a lightweight fight with major title implications, as rising contender Al Iaquinta will face fan favorite and future UFC Hall of Famer Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
Iaquinta, the No. 4 ranked lightweight, has won nine of his last 11 fights and is coming off an impressive unanimous decision victory over legitimate contender Kevin Lee. The win was Iaquinta’s second over Lee and perhaps moved him one bout closer to fighting for the title.
The 32-year-old Iaquinta gained major notoriety after going five rounds with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on short notice last April, and a win over Cerrone could put him one step closer to a rematch with the champion.
Iaquinta, a New York native, believes he would qualify for another title shot with a win on Saturday.
“I would want to fight Khabib for the title to get that one back,” Iaquinta recently said via MMAWeekly. “After a couple dominant wins, it sets up that rematch and I think the first fight wasn’t a good evaluation of my skill set against him and for his to mine. That was just the craziest weekend ever.
“I think we do it again and I’m thinking the outcome is a little different.”
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Other than the two victories over Lee, Iaquinta has key wins over Diego Sanchez, Jorge Masvidal, Joe Lauzon and Ross Pearson. While he respects Cerrone, Iaquinta believes he has what it takes to defeat the man they call Cowboy.
“I think that Cowboy’s last fight, he fought a guy (Alexander Hernandez) who was young, hungry, but he wasn’t too experienced, and I think that showed as the fight wore on,” Iaquinta said via BJPenn.com Radio. “That kid got into the second round and he melted. I think that I have that same hunger and that same drive right now on my way up, but I have the experience that he lacked.
“I think that’s going to be the difference in this fight, that I have both. I have that hunger, that drive, that youthfulness, and the experience is what’s going to do it for me.”
Cerrone, the No. 8 ranked lightweight, will ride two straight wins into Saturday, most recently defeating Hernandez by second-round TKO in January. Beloved by UFC fans for not turning down fights and staying busy in the Octagon, Cerrone has claimed several UFC records in his lengthy career, including the most wins with 22, the most finishes with 16 and the most post-fight bonuses with 16. He’s also tied for the most bouts within a 12-month period with six, and the most knockdowns in UFC history with 18.
Like Iaquinta, Cerrone is confident, but he shares a mutual respect with his upcoming opponent.
“There is no hostility; we were standing there interviewing next to each other,” Cerrone told the TSN MMA Show last month. “I’m glad to see there are still some guys that have a little bit of integrity in this sport left, that there’s no need to get all puffing my chest out. We’re fighting on May 4 and we’re going to get paid.”
Cerrone, who’s 22-8 in the UFC, continued, “I’m going to fight Al just as hard being his buddy as I would having hatred for him and I have zero hatred for him. Like I said, he’s a stand up dude and he’s going to go out there and fight me just as hard.
“There is no need to make all this fake to try and sell the fight, the fight is going to sell itself. If you’re an MMA fan, you know we’re both going out there to throw down, so all you have to do is crack your beer, sit back and enjoy.”
Aside Hernandez, Cerrone (35-11, 1 NC) has a long list of key victories, including wins over Mike Perry, Yancy Medeiros, Matt Brown, Rick Story, Patrick Cote, Alex Oliveira, Benson Henderson, Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller, Edson Barboza, Jeremy Stephens, Dennis Siver and Charles Oliveira.
The 36-year-old Cerrone fought for the lightweight title against in Rafael Dos Anjos in 2015, but lost by first-round TKO. He has been on a quest for one more title shot since moving back down to 155 pounds from welterweight, and a win over Iaquinta would make a great case for Cerrone in a talent-rich lightweight division.
The rest of the main card on ESPN+
Middleweight bout - No. 9 Derek Brunson vs. No. 13 Elias Theodorou
Featherweight bout - No. 10 Cub Swanson vs. Shane Burgos
Bantamweight bout - Brad Katona vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Heavyweight bout - No. 9 Walt Harris vs. Serghei Spivac
Middleweight bout - Marc-André Barriault vs. Andrew Sanchez
Women's bantamweight bout - No. 14 Macy Chiasson vs. Sarah Moras
Bantamweight bout - Aiemann Zahabi vs. Vince Morales
Welterweight bout - Nordine Taleb vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Featherweight bout - Kyle Nelson vs. Matt Sayles
Heavyweight bout - Arjan Singh Bhullar vs. Juan Adams
Bantamweight bout - Mitch Gagnon vs. Cole Smith