In his short time with the UFC, lightweight Alex Hernandez already made quite the impression.
Making his promotional debut on short-notice in March, Hernandez upset top ranked Beneil Dariush at UFC 222, winning by first-round TKO. The 26-year-old followed that up with a unanimous decision win over Olivier Aubin-Mercier at UFC on FOX 30. Even with all this success, Hernandez admits he wasn’t expecting a prominent opponent for his next outing. Originally slated to face Francisco Trinaldo at the cancelled UFC 233 card, the UFC surprised the Texas native by matching him up with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
‘Last I heard [Cerrone] was talking about fighting McGregor, this and that. It’s like how the hell do you go from that to me?” Hernandez told MMA News. “I’m just as dumbfounded as the rest of the world. I’m just happy to be in this position. I’m sure as s**t as always going to make the most of it.”
Hernandez (10-1) is currently riding an eight-fight win streak and has finished five of his opponents during that span. While many fighters would be starstruck facing a legend in the sport like Cerrone, the LFA veteran is treating him like another opponent.
“It’s awesome. Truthfully I don’t [get star truck] like that. He’s just another guy across from me. It’s an honor to share the cage with him and its incredible [to have the opportunity] to catapult into my career into the upper ranks. I’m just excited about it on a number of levels. I’m not fazed by [him] I’m doing a good job reminding myself of that. All this media s**t, all the hype, everything, that doesn’t win the fight. The fight I couldn’t be more certain of the outcome. It’s just separating it, trying to enjoy the media, not being overwhelmed by the extra cameras in your face. Trying to have some fun with it and delivering like I normally do.”
Cerrone (34-11) has won two of his last three fights including a first-round submission victory over former Jackson-Wink teammate Mike Perry at UFC Fight Night 139 in his last fight. Despite coming off a win, Cerrone decided to drop back down to the lightweight division for the first time since Dec. 2015. The last time Cerrone competed at lightweight, he was finished in the first round by Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 17. While Cerrone has had most of his success in the lightweight division, Hernandez believes the weight cut will impact him in the fight.
“I certainly think it’s going to be to his determinant. But it’s nothing I bank on ever. I always want to plan for the angriest, sharpest Cerrone that I could possibly see. I want to picture him mean as hell across from me and ready to come guns blazing. So that’s what I’m preparing for. I feel like 155-pounds will be a greater test for him to get down to. I know I’m a physically stronger fighter. I believe I’m technically savvier and my speed is far from unmatchable. I just believe at 155-pounds it will be a worse outcome than if it was at 170-pounds.”
How can fans expect this fight to play out on Jan. 19? Hernandez was quick to answer.
“I’m going to break him like everyone else. I have the style, I have the game and it doesn’t really change. I’m becoming more in tune with my own personal cadence. It’s always about looking inwards and delivering outward. For me I always see myself breaking my opponents and knocking them unconscious. Now, especially after that Olivier Aubin-Mercier fight, a lot of awareness was brought to the table, a lot of humility as well. Approaching this fight I intend to finish Cerrone, in my most honest opinion I intent to finish him in the first round. If it goes to the second great, if it goes to the third fine he’ll be a broken man by that third round. But I’m preparing for the longest war of my life with the mindset I can put him away quickly. I know wholeheartedly I can.”