The UFC’s final main card on FOX ends with an intriguing lightweight rematch between Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta on Saturday night.
It has been almost five years since #4 Kevin Lee (17-3) made his UFC debut at UFC 169. His opponent then is the man he is due to face on Saturday night in a rematch against #8 Al Iaquinta (13-4-1).
Much has changed in the UFC’s lightweight division since their first meeting. New sponsorships, a multi-billion dollar takeover and new rules.
OLD FOES – NEW RULES
It’s important to factor in the new rules when looking back at the first fight between these two. On the night, 21 year old debutant Lee was handed a loss but under the new rules, it’s very likely that the fight would be scored a draw.
“Raging” Al Iaquinta’s first round display was as clear a 10-9 as you’re likely to see when he was able to land big shots on Lee who was dropped twice early in the fight.
“The Mo-Town Phenom” was able to recover well and showcased some excellent ground skills and had Iaquinta fighting for his life at one point when he was close to scoring a rear naked choke victory in a dominant second round for Lee. Given as a 10-9 then but judges are more liberal in handing out 10-8 scorecards and this was a clear 10-8 as you are likely to see based on the updated ruleset.
A close third round was just edged by Iaquinta whose volume and level of output late in the round put a stamp on the round and the fight.
It seems right that these two will meet again as the pair duke it out in a very interesting battle at the top of the 155lbs ladder.
Since 2014’s showdown, the two have been on very differing paths but were always likely to intersect at some point down the line.
Since the loss, Lee has gone 10-2 in the UFC and has beaten some of the division’s top names including Edson Barboza and Michael Chiesa and has done so impressively with six of those ten victories coming by way of stoppage.
Lee’s biggest fight to date against Tony Ferguson snapped his five fight winning streak and in a division as talent rich as it is, fighters can’t afford to slip up at the top.
As for Iaquinta, his relationship with the UFC hasn’t been all too friendly but the New Yorker is still in the top 10 of the UFC and has gone 5-2 with the promotion since the first fight against Lee.
Most noticeably, Iaquinta stepped in to face current lightweight king, Khabib Nurmagomedov after Tony Ferguson pulled out due to injury at UFC 223 earlier this year.
Rematches are always very interesting as there’s an existing blue print to rejig tactics and techniques and in the case of Lee, he showcased some excellent submission skills on the mat but in recent fights he has started to show off his striking.
Iaquinta has also been showing off his stand up skills with four TKO/KO finishes in four of his last six bouts. It’s very important to not overlook Iaquinta’s ground game and in the first meeting with Lee was able to shoot for some very sneaky submission attempts of his own.
It’s a fight that sees two fighters fine tuning their skills and we could be in for an absolute treat come Saturday night as both men are well equipped to deal with everything wherever the fight goes.
Kevin Lee via decision