The advice for Wantagh's Al Iaquinta was simple and straightforward.
"You can do this all day long," trainer Ray Longo shouted from the corner. So he did.
Iaquinta landed powerful combinations, stuffed Ryan Couture's takedown attempts and ended the first two rounds with a successful takedown of his own. He looked as if he hasn't been away from the cage for 15 months in beating Couture at UFC 164 in Milwaukee Saturday night.
Iaquinta (6-2-1, 1-1 UFC) won by unanimous decision with all three judges scoring it 30-27.
Iaquinta, who trains under Longo and former welterweight champion Matt Serra, mixed up his striking with great success. He landed heavy rights and lefts to Couture's head throughout the fight. He ripped a pair of rights to the ribcage of Couture (6-3, 0-2). And when Couture when to cove up the body, Iaquinta went to the head with a right.
"I feel like he could see everything I was doing from a mile away," said Couture, who had a 5.5-inch reach advantage. Iaquinta, 26, was supposed to fight last April in Newark, but his opponent pulled out with an injury. The former wrestler at Wantagh High School used the time to rehab from a sprained MCL in his knee.
It was as good a three-round performance as Iaquinta could have asked for after not fighting since losing to Michael Chiesa in the final of "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 15 in June 2012. Iaquinta connected on 88 of 196 strikes (44 percent). Of those 88 punches and kicks landed, 82 were significant strikes."That's the first one," Iaquinta said. "We'll be back soon. Let's do it again."