If you’ve talked to Alexander Hernandez for any length of time, you’ll realize that when his name is on the interview list, the day’s business is about to pick up. And this day was no different.
“We got to pick the spirit up right now,” he laughs. “This ‘45 cut has been radically different than the last, morale is high, and energy is high.”
Morale and energy should have been high for Hernandez after his February win over Jim Miller, but now, cutting back to 145 pounds after a rough time doing it before a second-round loss to Billy Quarantillo? Do tell.
“I feel a little undersized (at lightweight),” Hernandez said. “And I know for a fact just from talking with these guys and training with different guys that when you're comparing yourself to some of them, if you're going apples to apples, I don't feel like a f**king apple. (Laughs) So I feel like ‘55 is way too easy to make. I feel like if I can approach ‘45 the right way, it can be a smooth transition. And I feel like I did that this time.”
As for the last time for the Quarantillo fight?
“A lot of the duress I was putting on myself in my last ‘45 cut wasn't just the physical part of the cut itself, it was the mental duress. I was kind of in a rough spot coming off the Moicano fight, and then going into the Billy Q fight, I couldn't find the belief in myself in that camp. And so that puts a lot of strain on you, a lot of stress. And you're terrified of the weight, you're there for three months super regimented, super disciplined. And I realized now that it doesn't need to be like that. So now I'm more comfortable. Spirits are higher, I’m living better, and I've got the lust for fighting. I want to do it. That last ‘45, by the time I got there, I didn't want to fight. That was the truth.”
Hernandez did have his moments against Quarantillo before getting halted in the second round, but that was of little consolation to Hernandez, who took the short-notice assignment against Miller two months later and got his mojo back. Now he’s tackling the featherweight division again, he hit his mark Friday at 145.5 pounds, and now it’s time to get into a fight with Bill Algeo, a tough out any way you slice it, but seemingly even tougher as Hernandez tries to establish himself in a new weight class. He knows it, but he’s all-in.
“I really want to give ’45 it’s just due; I want to see it through there,” he said. “And I want to see myself perform there because I know I can.”
UFC fans know that Hernandez can perform at lightweight, as evidenced by six wins in the division, including a big one over Miller earlier this year that taught him some new tricks he can carry with him to 145 pounds.
“I finally figured out that if you want to be great, you got to take it as well as you give it,” he said. “And that was a shift that was made in that fight. And I did. I took it well and served it back better. I knew going into it that it was going to be a fight. I would be more surprised if I was able to take him out. I didn't discount the fact that I could, but he was going to be tough short notice for me. I wanted to stay within my element and make sure that I didn't even overextend myself trying to get him out of there because I knew he was crafty. I knew he wouldn't go easy.”
Miller never has, and he didn’t at the APEX. But after three rounds, it was Hernandez leaving with the victory, snapping a two-fight losing streak that is a thing of the past as he looks forward to Saturday night. And yes, those are the key words, because he is looking forward to getting in the Octagon and fighting.
“I always had a problem taking it too serious,” Hernandez said. “Taking myself too serious, taking the whole industry too serious. And it never necessarily served me. I was running my head into the wall too often, compensating with the work. And a lot of times you get these guys who are overworking and it's fear-based work, it's not confidence-derived work. Right now, I feel like I'm finally putting in confidence-derived work, not fear-based work. And that's been one of the biggest shifts. So I'm not overdoing and I'm not underdoing, either. I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing and I feel good. And when I can keep that neutrality of approach, man, I'm money for the fight. I'll go in there even-tempered, in good spirits and I'll execute.”
UFC Fight Night: Dawson vs Green took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 7, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!