Yesterday, it was revealed that Gilbert Melendez has tested positive for PEDs and won’t be fighting for a year, and the man who was supposed to face him next weekend, is understandably not thrilled about it.
Melendez was booked to fight Al Iaquinta at UFC Fight Night 71 on July 15th, which presented the latter an opportunity to crack the lightweight rankings top ten, possibly the top five. But, as a result of Melendez’s suspension, that’s all vanished.
Well, Iaquinta appeared on “The MMA Hour” to discuss the news, and while doing so, the heavy handed fighter relayed this (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“I don’t know what I want to do. I want to break something. I want to slam my head on the desk again. I don’t know. I’m just disappointed. I can’t describe it, man,” said Iaquinta, who also noted he had “nothing but respect” for Melendez leading up to the scheduled bout, and credited the fighter for “manning up” to the suspension.
“I was ready to go. It was a perfect fight for me stylistically. I brought in guys who really had a good style and I’ve been doing great with the sparring, so it’s just, I don’t know, I’m just frustrated right now, man. I’m real frustrated.”
That’s pretty understandable. Not only was Melendez ranked #5 prior to the suspension (he’s been removed from the top 15 since), he’s a former Strikeforce champ, so it was definitely a massive fight for Iaquinta. The New York fighter had been granted the opportunity thanks to a four fight winning streak, which includes wins over Joe Lauzon, Ross Pearson, Rodrigo Damm and Jorge Masvidal. Iaquinta is currently ranked #12.
Initially, the UFC said it was hoping to find Iaquinta a replacement opponent for the card, but the heavy handed fighter reported in the aforementioned interview that he’s elected to have a nagging knee injury fixed.
UFC FN 71 will take place in San Diego, California, and will be headlined by a heavyweight bout between Frank Mir and Todd Duffee.