Alexander Hernandez is nothing if not confident.
The upstart lightweight contender, who burst onto the scene in the UFC last year with back-to-back wins over Beneil Dariush and Olivier Aubin-Mercier, has been asking for the toughest fights the UFC could throw at him while awaiting his next opponent.
He was gladly on board for a showdown against ‘Fight of the Night’ machine Justin Gaethje and when that didn’t happen, Hernandez was quick to accept a fight against Francisco Trinaldo instead.
When the UFC then opted to match him up against Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone as the headlining fight on ESPN this weekend, Hernandez couldn’t sign his contract fast enough.
“This is the most ideal paradigm for a fight at this stage of my career,” Hernandez said about facing Cerrone when speaking to MMAWeekly. “I need to build my stock. I need to build my fan awareness and just awareness to the general public. So this fight couldn’t have come at a more perfect time to catapult me into that next tier of competition and rankings.
“And all the rankings are f—king subjective anyways. What’s more important is getting your name out there and so Cerrone is the way to do that.”
Cerrone returns to the lightweight division after spending the past couple of years competing at 170 pounds. The move up to a new weight class happened after Cerrone suffered a first round knockout loss in his only attempt to win a UFC title coupled with a tough weight cut to get down to the 155-pound limit.
Cerrone had some big wins at welterweight but he also suffered through some tough losses as well and after his last victory against Mike Perry, he announced his intentions to return to lightweight once again.
Hernandez sees Cerrone’s inability to stick with a weight class as just another example of his primary criticism with the UFC and WEC veteran.
“I think he’s an unsure guy,” Hernandez said about Cerrone. “I think he’s slow to learn. I think he’s extremely temperamental. He goes to 170 [pounds] because 155 [pounds] is not necessarily his best cut and then he goes back to 155. He does a number of extracurricular activities to distract himself from the greatest task at hand, which is a face off in the Octagon. I think he’s constantly running and constantly dividing his attention so he can really find balance or avoid adversity or stress.
Hernandez feels like Cerrone’s shortcomings also play a part in some of the crazy activities he does on the side while constantly risking his fighting career at the same time.
Cerrone is well known for his daredevil tendencies while doing everything from rock climbing to wake boarding to riding motorcycles, often times just days away from his fights.
“He puts 60-percent into fighting and 40-percent elsewhere,” Hernandez said. “I put 100-percent of my focus on one mission and one task. I’ll be damned if a man who’s got a mixed focus will hold a candle to my determination.
“I think it comes from a place of fear. He’s expressed it openly. He doesn’t do a good job of combating his nerves, his fears, his anxiety. Instead of facing it and overcoming it and evolving, he distracts himself and those distractions have always been and will always be the death of him.”
Hernandez says the same could be said about Cerrone when it comes to his fighting style inside the cage.
“He doesn’t like a pressure fight. He doesn’t like adversity,” Hernandez said. “He doesn’t like to give up the pace or the cadence of a fight. That just goes back to my point to what I just stated. He’s running from that adversity instead of learning to overcome.”
That’s a primary reason why Hernandez believes he will be able to give Cerrone nightmare flashbacks to all his shortcomings in the past when the clash on Saturday night.
“I want to stamp him like [Darren] Till stamped him,” Hernandez predicted. “I want to finish him. I need to fold him over within the first two rounds.”