If you've been paying attention to the current season of the Ultimate Fighter, then you've gotten a taste of the knowledge that we here in the Northeast have been chewing on for years: Al Iaquinta will straight-up kill dudes in the cage if you let him. Thus far on TUF 15, we've seen him surgically remove the consciousness of one cat, outlast an alleged badass, and chip away at a dude until there was nothing left but a soulless shell of a man when time expired. And now, on Friday night's TUF Live Finale on the FX channel, we'll all get to see him beat a fellow finalist into an actual living death, complete with zombification. But there's more insight to be had when it comes to Iaquinta, like that he eats spaghetti with chopsticks, and the nickname given to him by his family and friends is "Al Iaquinta". (Note: I may have made those facts up.) So! Here's what I know about him. After this, we'll all be in on the same page and can be considered equals. Ha! Not!
-Iaquinta trains under Matt Serra and Ray Longo on Long Island (and before that, wrestled in high school and trained MMA under Dave Martucci). He has always been an extremely well-rounded fighter capable of overwhelming foes on the ground and wrecking 'em on the feet.
-Taking full advantage of New Jersey's amateur MMA circuit, Iaquinta spent about two years amassing a spotless record with over a dozen fights. The dude even did Muay Thai bouts, plus a sanda match (kickboxing with throws) at a small event in Gleason's Gym. Add to that some grappling tournaments, and you got one bad mamma-jamma.
-What makes Iaquinta so dangerous, however, is that he's the king of having long, brutal battles and he never withers from punishment. He had an absolute war with a tough Brazilian named Gabe Miglioli in ROC, and the fight went everywhere, with both men taking hits and keeping going. But it was Iaquinta who eventually got the nod - mostly because he just would not stop beating Miglioli down. (And in their subsequent rematch, Iaquinta got the TKO win in just 26 seconds.) Bottom line: the man is like iron.
-The lone loss on Iaquinta's record came at ROC 38 last November, at the hands of UFC vet Pat Audinwood. The story of the fight: both guys blasted and rocked each other on the feet, with Iaquinta reflexively taking Audinwood down and soon finding himself stuck in a tight armbar from the guard. That's it. Shit happens, and the Serra/Longo fighter got caught.
-Iaquinta was long considered one of the Northeast's best 155-pound fighters before he got the call for TUF - he was a ROC champ, after all. Coincidentally, he was supposed to appear on an earlier season of the show, but got sidelined with a shoulder injury that was sustained when HE FOUGHT AN ACTUAL FUCKING RHINOCEROS. Seriously, google it. It was in Newsday. Escaped from the Long Island Game Farm.