Wantagh's Al Iaquinta knocked out Rodrigo Damm in third round...

Wantagh's Al Iaquinta knocked out Rodrigo Damm in third round to win their lightweight bout at UFC Fight Night 50 at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Credit: Mario Gonzalez

Names matter.

Especially in the landscape of the UFC lightweight division, where there are a few dozen 155-pounders fighting their way into contention and recognition for the chance to be among the 15 top-ranked fighters.

Wantagh's Al Iaquinta is among that group looking to attach a number to his name. He's wanted to fight "a name" for a while. Iaquinta has that opportunity on Friday night when he faces Ross Pearson in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 55 in Sydney, Australia.

"Everyone I've fought, I've had to explain who they were," Iaquinta said. "My last opponent [Rodrigo Damm], I had to explain to people he's a Brazilian Jiujitsu guy, I gotta keep it standing. When I tell people I'm fighting Ross Pearson, they know who he is. So when I get this win, they're gonna know who I am."

Iaquinta lost in the Season 15 "Ultimate Fighter" finale to Michael Chiesa in June 2012. After more than a year away to recover from several injuries, he won decisions against Ryan Couture, Piotr Hallmann and Kevin Lee. Those three opponents had a total of two fights in the UFC before their bouts.

Iaquinta lost by submission to Mitch Clarke last May in a bout he was dominating on the feet until Clarke used a slick move to get the choke.

Both Iaquinta and Pearson are solid strikers.

Iaquinta (9-3-1, 4-2 UFC) earned his first stoppage in the UFC with a third-round technical knockout of Damm in September. It was the best showing for Iaquinta, who trains with Ray Longo and Matt Serra, since joining the UFC. He dominated the entire bout.

"I love that kid," UFC president Dana White said. "He's like a machine. Every time he fights, he looks better and better."

Pearson (18-7, 8-4 UFC with one no contest) is coming off a second-round stoppage of Gray Maynard in August. A former "Ultimate Fighter" season winner, Pearson dabbled in the featherweight division before returning to lightweight, where he is 3-1 with a no contest.

"The lightweight division is stacked right now, and you gotta be active," Pearson said. "You gotta keep your name out there, you gotta keep fighting in front of the fans and show them what you can do.

"Al's a dangerous opponent," Pearson added. "He's underrated. He's coming in here trying to take all the steam and jump a few notches on the ladder."

The entire card, headlined by Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping, will air on UFC Fight Pass.

UFC Fight Night 55 fight card

Main card, 10 p.m. ET

Middleweight: Luke Rockhold vs. Michael Bisping

Lightweight: Ross Pearson vs. Al Iaquinta

Middleweight: Robert Whittaker vs. Clint Hester

Heavyweight: Soa Palelei vs. Walt Harris

Prelims, 7 p.m.

Lightweight: Jake Matthews vs. Vagner Rocha

Light heavyweight: Anthony Perosh vs. Guto Inocente

Middleweight: Dylan Andrews vs. Sam Alvey

Flyweight: Richie Vaculik vs. Louis Smolka

Welterweight: Vik Grujic vs. Chris Clements

Middleweight: Luke Zachrich vs. Dan Kelly

Bantamweight: Jumabieke Tuerxun vs. Marcus Brimage

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