Ranked UFC Lightweight Alex Hernandez: “Anyone Can Get It”
Going from “unknown” to “known” is a really difficult process for any mixed martial artist looking to acquire the status of “the next big thing”. Before UFC-hopefuls even make it onto our televisions, years of training, competing on the amateur level, and climbing the professional ranks often transpires. Fighters who are actually gifted enough to make it to the UFC usually compete a handful of times to gain notoriety across the entire MMA fanbase– both casuals and hardcores.
UFC lightweight Alex Hernandez (9-1, 1-0 UFC) decided to skip this step. Few fighters make the impact Hernandez made in his promotional debut, bursting into the national spotlight with a 43 second knockout of Beneil Dariush at UFC 222. The 25-year-old Texan couldn’t be more pleased with the ways things are going.
“Life has been pretty killer,” told MMA Today on Sunday afternoon, just eight days after the bout. “It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’m just trying to get reacclimated to everything.”
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) March 4, 2018
After a long celebratory weekend in Las Vegas partying with his friends, Hernandez finally had some time to reflect on the accomplishment he had achieved. “It felt amazing– not for anyone but myself,” explained Hernandez. “Just to see everything you worked for and built up for be validated and physically manifested– it’s amazing. It’s always good shutting up the haters, too. Everyone is going to try to troll and mock on the way up until they see the results. It’s been cool, but it’s only the beginning.”
With added fame comes more fans and believers, but also more doubters and scrutiny. Despite his inaugural fight for the promotion being flawless and dominant, Hernandez faced introductory criticism following the bout. The gripe being picked with Hernandez concerned an incident that occurred in the opening seconds of the bout.
As the two combatants approached each other for the first time, Hernandez landed a push kick to Dariush’s stomach, sending him backwards– a move deemed to be “cheap” by those questioning. Were the two combatants expecting to touch gloves? Did Hernandez fake the glove tap? Hernandez says neither is the case, and views the whole sequence as a non-issue.
“You see someone crouched like a lion steaming at you from across the cage set off at full charge coming at you,” explained Hernandez. “If you think they’re coming to slap skin, you need to kind of reevaluate what you’re doing, and what we’re in here to accomplish. I always keep a long arm and a long reach. It’s kind of a unit to test my range. I never faked a handshake and we never did the little hand up like we were going to slap hands.”
With all of the glove touch drama set aside, Hernandez couldn’t be happier with his performance. The young man from San Antonio isn’t lacking any confidence– that much has been obvious from the start. However, at UFC 222, Hernandez seemed to even surprise himself a bit.
“Everything went just according to plan– even maybe a little quicker than we had expected,” laughed Hernandez. “Going into that fight, I felt like I was going to finish him in the first round. I didn’t know it was going to happen in less than a minute. I kind of surprised myself with the knockout power I have in my left hand. I knew I hit hard, but I’m right handed. [With] my right hand, I feel like I could put a hole in a building, but I wasn’t sure how [my left] would go. You never to get to the full extent in practice, so that was a pretty cool realization– and a pretty scary thing for everyone in the division.”
Looking into the future, Hernandez (ranked #13) has been smooth talked by fans and media into eying a bout with fellow Texan, James Vick (ranked #11). “People kept throwing Vick at me, and I hadn’t really thought about it much,” explained Hernandez. “Then I saw he was ranked ahead of me and he’s two slots ahead of me and he’s available. Plus, you got a little north vs. south Texas thing going, so that’s a pretty cool market rivalry. He can get it, anyone can get it.”
More important to Hernandez than anything, is the fact he is the first fighter from his team, Ohana Academy, to make it to the big show. Hernandez believes he is the first of many. “I’m pretty stoked about it,” said Hernandez. “This is bigger than me. This is just the beginning. I’m doing this for more than me just getting a belt. I’m taking everyone with me. My team is going to excel and my city is going to excel. We’re all really excited about that.”
“Shoutout to my team, Ohana Academy. On Instagram, follow Trident Strength and Conditioning and myself, @thegreat155, which is also my handle on Twitter”- “The Great”
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