Wantagh resident Al Iaquinta won an elimination bout Friday night to earn a spot on season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter on FX.
Iaquinta was one of 32 lightweights from a pool of more than 500 fighters around the world to compete in 16 elimination- round fights with the winners each earning cast-member status on the hit mixed martial arts competition show, also known as TUF Live. The former standout wrestler at and Nassau Community College defeated jiu jitsu fighter Jon Tuck in a unanimous decision during Friday night’s premier episode of TUF Live in Las Vegas and will now remain on the show for the next 12 weeks.
The 24-year old Iaquinta had originally been selected to compete in season 12 of TUF Live but had to withdraw due to an injury. The Wantagh High School graduate said in a video posted by Newsday that he has been training six days a week and does not feel any added pressure while getting set to compete for MMA fame.
TUF Live, which moved to FX this season after previously airing on Spike TV, is produced by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which is the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company in the world. Iaquinta has been trained by UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, an East Meadow native, and the accomplished fighter's longtime trainer Ray Longo of Garden City.
TUF Live will air on Friday nights at 10 p.m. on FX. A TUF 15 champion will be crowned on June 1 during a live season finale. The eventual winner will receive a six-figure contract from the UFC.