Al Iaquinta heard Dana White’s plan to move the UFC back to its old format of late afternoon weigh-ins. And to put things bluntly, “Ragin’ Al” is not a fan.
After hearing White adamantly defend the promotion’s decision to abandon morning weigh-ins over the weekend at UFC 225’s post-fight press conference in Chicago, Iaquinta ripped into the UFC president Monday on The MMA Hour. Iaquinta disputed White’s claim that the UFC has done research of its own to determine that a majority of fighters on the roster prefer the old format of late afternoon weigh-ins, and expressed frustration with White categorically stating that the switch was happening “no matter what,” even at the expense of the original intent of morning weigh-ins — which was to give fighters more time to recover and rehydrate before their fight.
“His sense of reality is gone,” Iaquinta said of White on The MMA Hour. “It’s gone. It’s shot. It’s absolutely shot. It’s scary. Now he’s putting our health at risk. He’s going to move the weigh-ins? So why did you move the weigh-ins in the first place? Because, in his mind, he wants more exciting fights. How are you going to get more exciting fights? Give the fighters more time to recover, right? Which is also beneficial to us because it’s healthy. It’s healthy for us to replenish.
“Even though it’s healthier for the fighters, we’re going to move it back to the nighttime, because he interviewed a million fighters? I haven’t seen one that want it at night. So his sense of reality, you can’t — it’s almost like, you do an interview with him now, it’s not about the truth, it’s about his agenda. So, I’m weighing-in in the morning.”
An overwhelming number of UFC fighters expressed support for keeping morning weigh-ins throughout UFC 225 fight week, whether on social media or in interviews, with only a few athletes taking the dissenting side. Nonetheless, White vehemently rebuffed questions about the promised switch back to late afternoon weigh-ins, telling reporters on Saturday night, “there’s no debate about this.”
And for Iaquinta, after once again dealing with White’s unique brand of negotiating in setting up his Aug. 25 showdown against Justin Gaethje, the New Yorker sees the weight-cutting discussion as a prime example of how White’s actions are negatively affecting the sport.
“Lorenzo (Fertitta) kept him in check,” Iaquinta said. “Now that [Fertitta is gone], I think he’s going to run this thing into the ground, because now he’s just saying whatever he wants to say. No one’s keeping him under wraps. He’s saying whatever he wants to say. You’re just going to move the weigh-in? What fighter did you interview? He said, ‘We’ve got 550 fighter on the roster, we interviewed more than you.’ Eh, I don’t think so. I haven’t talked to a fighter that was interviewed or talked to about moving the weigh-ins back to the nighttime. I think it’s about him. It’s all about him. It’s always about him. And if it’s not about him, he wants to get right in there.
“He’s got one foot out the door. Just go, man. Go. Go. He’s done. He’s done. And I don’t give a sh*t. I don’t care. I know. I can see. I’m going to say it. I think 50 percent of the people don’t see it, 50 percent of the people are too scared to say it. I think everyone’s onboard. I don’t know, it ruins everything. Like, a fight with Justin Gaethje, there should be no hesitation. You should just make it work, man. Make it f*cking work. Right? That’s the fight you want to see, I want to see, I want to be in, they want to be in. Everyone wants to be a part of this thing. F*cking make it work, dude. Don’t go out there on an interview and say, ‘Oh no, it’s not happening.’ Make it work. You’re the promoter. This is your job.
“It’s like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — you can’t f*ck that up,” Iaquinta continued. “CM Punk, he shouldn’t be a thing you can f*ck up. He managed to f*ck it up, because Michael [Jackson] won the fight and he’s talking sh*t about Michael [Jackson], and he’s got Alistair Overeem on the undercard when a guy, (Curtis) ‘Razor’ Blaydes, freaking knocked him out. ‘Razor’ Blaydes should’ve gotten a win on pay-per-view. He should be the guy right now. He should be upset. ‘Where am I? You put me on the undercard, I finished Overeem, and you’re talking sh*t about Michael Jackson?’ What’s going on? I just, I love this sport so much, it kills me.
“You were upset with the way Michael Jackson fought? You put a reporter in the fight. What do you expect?”
Iaqutina is a member of the interim executive board of Project Spearhead, the unionization effort for UFC fighters led by Leslie Smith and Kajan Johnson, and “Ragin’ Al” believes the weigh-in debate could become the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to the relations between the UFC and its athletes.
“We need a promoter,” Iaquinta said. “And I think the fighters, this weigh-in thing is the last straw. This is going to kill them. This is going to put them in. You’re going to see. He’s going to say something, it’s going to get even worse. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’ll get better though.”
While it is rare to hear fighters speak so forcefully against the UFC, Iaquinta presents a unique case. The Long Island native has been at odds with the promotion in various ways for the past several years, and he isn’t the least bit worried about incurring the same kind of retribution that befell Smith when she was released from the UFC earlier this year.
“Get rid of me. I don’t give a sh*t. How about that?” Iaquinta said, laughing. “I really don’t care. That’s the difference, is I don’t care and they know I don’t care. All the rest of the guys, they care. I don’t. So, cut me. I don’t care. The UFC doesn’t make me. I make them. We make them. That’s what no one understands. No one gets it.”
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