Al Iaquinta was viewed as a favorite to secure the title of Ultimate Fighter last year.

Now, after spending the majority of 2012 on the sidelines following knee surgery, Iaquinta is set to return to action in April at UFC 159. And, he’ll do so again a familiar foe – Joe Proctor.

Iaquinta, who finished second on TUF, and Proctor were both part of the same team in the house. The two were drafted by Urijah Faber, and sparred against one another several times in training sessions.

“Joe and I exchanged text messages when the UFC had offered that matchup,” said Iaquinta, during a recent interview with FightLine. “We agreed that we had a bunch of training sessions while on TUF that would have been ‘Fight of the Night’ type of fights and we will put on a show and get paid for it this time.”

Proctor (8-2) was defeated in the quarterfinals of the tournament, and has gone 1-1 in his UFC career. Iaquinta has only had his finals match with Mike Chiesa, which he lost by technical submission last June.

“Proctor is a very tough guy with powerful punches and a very good ground game,” Iaquinta said. “As good as he was on the show I am sure that he has improved and evolved his game, as I have. So, I will be preparing for everything going into this fight.”

Photo credit: Tracy Lee/Combatlifestyle.com