With MMA still illegal in New York, Al Iaquinta understands the importance of getting the opportunity to compete in nearby New Jersey.

And, it just so happens that the UFC is heading to Newark for UFC 169 in February. Iaquinta has signed to face newcomer Kevin Lee on the card.

“I’m really excited to be fighting so close to home,” said Iaquinta, during a recent interview with FightLine. “MMA is still illegal in New York, so this is about as close to home as we get.”

Iaquinta (7-2-1) has strung together back-to-back victories over Ryan Couture and Piotr Hallmann this year, giving him plenty of confidence and momentum in the UFC’s lightweight division.

Now, after taking a trip out West to train with Team Alpha Male and the likes of Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and others, Iaquinta is ready to get back inside the Octagon and show what he has learned.

“The timing of this fight is perfect,” he said. “I’ve kept myself in great shape and I’ve stayed in the gym. I’ve improved a lot since my last fight, I’m healthy and looking to stay active.”

The former Ultimate Fighter runner-up was forced to miss several months of action due to injuries. The Super Bowl weekend card currently features a pair of title fights between Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao in the bantamweight division, and Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas at featherweight.