Wantagh resident Al Iaquinta's dream of earning a six-figure contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is now within grasp.
Iaquinta has advanced to the final bout on season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter (also known as TUF Live) on FX and will face Mike Chiesa in this Friday's season finale with the winner earning a spot in UFC. Iaquinta, who is being coached on the show by UFC fighter Urijah Faber, advanced to the finals with a unanimous decision victory over Vinc Pichel. To view the last TUF Live episode of Iaquina winning his semifinal round fight, click here.
The former wrestler at and Nassau Community College received a spot on the hit mixed martial arts competition show when in March after being one of 32 lightweights from a pool of more than 500 fighters around the world to compete for cast-member status. The 25-year old Iaquinta had originally been selected to compete in season 12 of TUF Live but had to withdraw due to an injury.
Iaquinta's former Wantagh High School wrestling teammate is thrilled by the success in mixed martial arts he has achieved on a national level.
"Once Al started fighting the Ring of Combat I was waiting for his chance to get onto The Ultimate Fighter," said Bonanno, who is now a standout wrestler at Hofstra University. "He's a tough kid and never stops working."
Iaquinta's bio posted on The Ultimate Fighter website says that his parents, who are both teachers, were at first opposed to the idea of his quest to reach the UFC.
"They've always been very supportive but at first they didn't like this," Iaquinta said. "I really had to battle them but my father told me that if I wanted to do this for a living, I had to treat it as a job and he would support me."
The TUF Live finale is scheduled for Friday night at The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas at 9 p.m. on FX.
Iaquinta is also up for a couple awards from TUF Live being voted on by fans including best knockout and fight. To cast votes for the Wantagh product, click here. Voting ends on Wednesday.