Al Iaquinta loses in 'Ultimate Fighter' finale
Al Iaquinta did not tap out. But he didn't win the fight, either.
Iaquinta, a 25-year-old fighter from Wantagh, was submitted in the first round by lightweight Michael Chiesa in the final of the 15th season of "The Ultimate Fighter" on Friday night in Las Vegas.
Chiesa had Iaquinta pinned up against the cage and secured a tight body lock. He fell to the ground, to Iaquinta with him and got back control. As Chiesa fought for the rear naked choke hold, Iaquinta fought it off.
But Chiesa persisted. He eventually got his right arm under Iaquinta's chin and began to squeeze. Iaquinta refused to tap, instead passing out from the choke hold at the 2:47-second mark.
"Giving up your back and kind of panicking to get that choke off is not the game plan," Iaquinta said.
Iaquinta (5-2-1) was aggressive early and landed significant blows to the head. But Chiesa kept working.
"There was no way I was going to lose this fight," said Chiesa (8-0), whose father passed away from leukemia during the first few weeks of the show's filming in mid-March.
Iaquinta is the third Long Island fighter to reach the final of "The Ultimate Fighter." Dennis Bermudez of Massapequa (via upstate Saugerties) reached the Season 14 finale and lost to Diego Brandao. East Meadow's Matt Serra, one of Iaquinta's coaches, won the comeback season of "TUF" then beat Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title.
This was the third fight in 15 days for Iaquinta and the third in 22 days for Chiesa, a product of this season's live fights. "TUF Live" aired Friday nights on FX, with the taped "reality" part of the show preceding a live fight. Iaquinta beat Andy Ogle in the quarterfinals two weeks ago and Vinc Pichel last week.
The knockout of Ogle earned Iaquinta a $25,000 bonus for the best knockout of the season. Iaquinta also won the $25,000 bonus for fight of the season against Myles Jury.