With his first-round submission win on Aug. 1 over Matt Gabel, King of the Cage champion Daniel “El Leon” Hernandez continued his dominance over the promotion’s 185-pound division. However, the win didn’t come easy.
Looking back on the win over Gabel, Hernandez admits he strayed away from what he had initially planned, and even got himself in a tight spot, but he was able to pull through and finish the fight.
“I kind of went into the fight with a different game plan in mind,” Hernandez told MMAWeekly.com. “I was hoping to do some boxing that I’d been working a lot on and force (Gabel) to make his takedown move and catch him off that, but for whatever reason I got anxious and forced the shot myself.
“He actually caught me in a guillotine choke and it was very, very deep, and I had to fight for my life. I was able to wiggle my head out, and being in his guard and throwing punches, I realized he was gassed, so I was able pass his guard and get him in an armbar.”
The win on Aug. 1 has given Hernandez a six-fight winning streak. Considering he lost seven of his first 10 bouts, to have turned his career around and have an 18-10 record is an accomplishment in itself. Hernandez credits going back to his roots for the big turnaround.
“The first couple years, I had a different coach who was a Hapkido black belt, so I think I was kind of motivated more to stand and strike with people, and it just wasn’t my style,” said Hernandez. “I didn’t fight my height and my reach. It just didn’t work out.
“After I left that coach, I went back to grappling and wrestling, so I went back to what I know would win me the fight, and it’s been working.”
While he’s unsure what he’ll have lined up next, Hernandez is looking forward to remaining the KOTC middleweight champion and defending his title again in 2015.
“I really enjoy fighting for KOTC,” said Hernandez. “They’ve been booking me steadily and really taking care of me. They’ve been pushing me as a fighter, promoting me as a fighter, so this whole year I see myself with them and do what they have planned for me.”