Alexander Hernandez will have the biggest opportunity of his young career tomorrow night (Sat., Jan. 19, 2018) at UFC on ESPN+ 1 from inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, when he takes on former UFC lightweight title challenger and welterweight contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
While most fighters in Hernandez’s position would seem overwhelmed by the opportunity to compete against a UFC legend like Cerrone, “The Great” is holding nothing back leading into this weekend’s matchup. In fact, Hernandez doesn’t seem bothered at all that he’s stepping up to face one of the most popular figures in the sport today.
“First, I’m grateful to Cowboy for taking the fight, maybe against his better judgement,” Hernandez said during UFC Brooklyn’s pre-fight press conference (full replay here). “But, you know, I’m not drawn in by the promotion, the city, even his image or persona or anything. It’s just another day. For me, standing across from Cowboy, I’m looking through the fighter. I’m looking at the man. I think the persona and everything is a big distraction. I just see myself facing an insecure little lad, swinging on a pop gun with a feather in his hat.”
Hernandez, 26, is coming off back-to-back wins over Beneil Dariush and Olivier Aubin-Mercier to begin his UFC career. It’s a tremendous start for the aspiring lightweight contender, but nothing that comes close to Cerrone’s promotional track record, which happens to include the most wins (21) and finishes (15) in UFC history.
While Hernandez respects the trail that “Cowboy” has blazed, the youngster isn’t going to pay any mind to past accomplishments when the cage door shuts this weekend in Brooklyn.
“Sure, I respect Donald,” Hernandez said when asked if he appreciates Cerrone's resume. “It was a cool come up and everything. But, there’s a difference between seeing someone on the screen and seeing someone stand across from you. There will be none of that respect held. I won’t respect his space, I won’t respect the air he’s breathing, I’m going to press and break him in the Octagon. It’s a completely different world now.”
Even though Hernandez has looked really impressive in two Octagon appearances to date, he may be biting off more than he can chew against Cerrone. “Great” simply hasn’t fought anyone remotely close to Cerrone’s skill set, experience, and knack for shining in big moments.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Hernandez from talking trash and getting under the skin of one of the most stoic names on the roster.
“You’re a jester in the way,” Hernandez told Cerrone. “You’re an active participant. You’re concerned with entertaining people, I am on the road to the throne. I’m concerned with kingship and you’re a jester. You’re a stepping stone.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 143 fight card, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6:30 p.m. ET followed by the ESPN “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.