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Russia's Khabib Nurmagomedov, left, punches Al Iaquinta during the third round of a lightweight title bout at UFC 223 on April 8, 2018, in New York.Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press

Fighter (Raging) Al Iaquinta can knock you out or find you a new home.

Ranked fourth among UFC lightweights, the 32-year-old from Wantagh, N.Y., works in real estate when not cage-fighting.

“It’s not taxing on my body. I’m networking, I’m meeting new people, I’m competing against other agents so it’s very similar in a lot of ways,” he explained. “There’s a million real estate agents in the country and there’s a million MMA fighters. So you’ve got to have something to stand out in both.

“I figure if I did it in one, I can do it in the other.”

Iaquinta (14-4-1) has put his real estate duties on hold – he focuses mainly on residential properties in the south shore of Long Island – to challenge No. 8 Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone on Saturday in a televised UFC card in Ottawa.

In the co-main event at Canadian Tire Centre, Toronto middleweight Elias (The Spartan) Theodorou takes on Derek Brunson. Theodorou (17-2-0) is ranked 13th among 185-pound contenders while Brunson (18-7-0) is No. 8.

While the 36-year-old Cerrone is ranked below him, Iaquinta recognizes the appeal of a matchup against a popular veteran who has been willing to fight anyone anywhere over a 13-year career covering both the UFC and WEC.

“He’s been around for ever. He’s fought everybody,” Iaquinta said. “I watched him when I was younger, [when I was] just a wrestler.”

Iaquinta, who first pro fight was in 2009, was also on hand to see Cerrone’s last outing – an impressive win over Alexander (the Great) Hernandez in Brooklyn in January – and knows his appeal to fans.

“I knew he was popular, I knew he’s been around for ever but the crowd, the pop when he walked out and when he got announced was bigger than anybody on the fight card. … That place went wild when they said the Cowboy.

“I just know how many eyes he brings when he fights. And that’s the name of the game. In those situations I rise to the occasion, I love it. The more people watching me, the higher the stakes, push me to another level. And I think that’s what’s going to happen in this fight.”

Cerrone (35-11-0 with one no contest) respects Iaquinta.

“I don’t have any like bad blood with him. … He’s a durable guy. Tough,” he said. “It’ll be a good fight.”

Saturday will mark Cerrone’s 31st fight in the UFC – and second in Ottawa. He stopped Montreal welterweight Patrick (The Predator) Côté there in June, 2016.

Iaquinta’s lone loss in his last seven fights was a short-notice bout for the vacant lightweight title against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April, 2018. The undefeated Nurmagomedov won a convincing unanimous decision (50-44, 50-43 and 50-43), but Iaquinta won kudos for both stepping up and going the distance.

Iaquinta had made weight for a fight against Paul Felder on the same card when he heard an opponent was needed for the main event. He volunteered and the UFC accepted.

But first he had to make weight again, given title fights don’t allow the one-pound allowance other bouts do. Iaquinta had weighed in at 155.2 pounds and needed to make 155.

“I got a phone call … to come down with my underwear because they wanted to weigh the underwear.”

The underwear accounted for the excess weight and the bout was on.

Adding to the drama around the fight, Iaquinta was in the van the previous day when MMA bad boy Conor McGregor – continuing a beef between his camp and Nurmagomedov’s – threw a dolly through the window.

“People are screaming, girls are crying. I didn’t know what the heck was going on. I thought it was a terrorist attack or we were getting shot. … That was a wild, wild start to that weekend,” Iaquinta recalled.

McGregor eventually pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a plea agreement. He was sentenced to community service and had to pay damages and attend an anger-management course.

Iaquinta bounced back from the Nurmagomedov loss with a December win over Kevin Lee. He wants another crack at the 155-pound title, this time without the drama.

Cerrone returned to the lightweight division in January, stopping Hernandez in the second round.

He moved up to welterweight after being stopped by lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos in December, 2015. Cerrone was 6-4-0 as a 170-pounder with losses to Jorge (Gamebred) Masvidal, (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler, Darren (The Gorilla) Till and Leon (Rocky) Edwards.

“I feel big at but ‘55 small at ‘70,” Cerrone explained.

While Iaquinta respects Cerrone’s MMA accomplishments, he sees “a lot of holes in his game.”

“I’ve been in there with some tough guys and I’ve come through,” he said. “They’ve tested my will. They’ve tested everything and you haven’t seen a chink in the armour yet. I don’t think you’re going to see one against Cowboy.

“I’m saying he breaks first.”

Other Canadians on the card are bantamweights Brad (Superman) Katona of Winnipeg, Aiemann Zahabi of Montreal, Mitch Gagnon of Sudbury and Sarah (Cheesecake) Moras of Kelowna, B.C., featherweight Kyle (The Monster) Nelson of Huntsville, Ont., middleweight Marc-André (Powerbar) Barriault of Quebec City, and heavyweight Arjan Singh Bhullar of Richmond, B.C.

French-born welterweight Nordine Taleb trains in Montreal.

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