UFC Vice President of Public Relations Dave Sholler on Monday confirmed an MMAFighting report that Iaquinta will not fight on the card. UFC Fight Night 71 will move forward with Tony Ferguson vs. Josh Thomson as the co-main event of the reduced 12-bout fight card.
Melendez was removed from the card when his UFC 188 post-fight drug test returned positive for “exogenous origin of testosterone metabolites,” which means that an outside source increased his testosterone level. Melendez accepted responsibility for the result, along with a one-year suspension.
Although UFC officials initially announced that they were seeking a new opponent for Iaquinta, the 28-year-old told MMAFighting that he is looking into options to fix a lingering knee injury.
“I had a knee surgery, it was actually right after The Ultimate Fighter (in 2012),” Iaquinta said. “It never really healed right, and it’s just been getting worse and worse every fight. I’ve been getting through it, and for a fight like Gilbert Melendez, I was pushing through it. But to go into another fight not at 100-percent, I think I’m just going to get it looked at, get it set up with a good doctor, and get it fixed.”
Iaquinta is currently riding a four-fight winning streak up the UFC lightweight ranks. Melendez was already a late replacement for Bobby Green, who withdrew due to injury, so there aren’t a lot of appealing options left for Iaquinta to fight.
It now looks like the New Yorker will be taking a bit of a break, depending upon what type of the options the doctors come up with to fix his knee.