Exclusive: Alexander Hernandez Sounds Off On Donald Cerrone Ahead Of UFC on ESPN+ 1

Photo: Sergei Belski for USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get it twisted, lightweight prospect Alexander Hernandez respects longtime UFC fan favorite Donald Cerrone. But he’s still going to treat “Cowboy” like any other opponent when they meet at UFC on ESPN+ 1.

Hernandez took the UFC by storm last year. He needed only 42 seconds to win his Octagon debut against Beneil Dariush at UFC 222. Hernandez continued his impressive 2018 with a unanimous decision victory over Olivier Aubin-Mercier at July 2018’s UFC on FOX 30.

At just 26 years old, Hernandez exudes confidence well beyond his years. Some folks may want to call it cockiness, however, the man that boasts the moniker “The Great” told LowKick MMA he is respectful of the fighters who have come before him.

“Yea, absolutely,” Hernandez said when asked if “Cowboy” Cerrone was one of the fighters he looked up. “He is a household name and a legacy in the game.

“I got respect for all those fighters that paved the way. They set an example for us to seek inspiration and now the sport is in a whole different place. The ability to make extraordinary financial gain is possible now where it really wasn’t back them. A lot of that is because of guys like “Cowboy.”

Photo: Sergei Belski for USA TODAY Sports

‘Cowboy’ Just Another Fighter?

Hernandez will get a chance to thank Cerrone (with a fist to the face) for all he has done for the sport of MMA when the two meet in the feature prelim bout at UFC on ESPN+ 1 on Jan. 19.

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Although Hernandez may have respect for the fighters that have come before him, he doesn’t concern himself with the past. For “The Great” one its simple:

“I don’t think about the sh*t that I already accomplished,” explained Hernandez. “I don’t think about the year that’s past, I don’t think about any of that, I don’t spend time in the media, I don’t spend too much time watching tape. Because if I start doing that, I start over-crediting people. I start looking at “Cowboy” like he is this surreal adversary that can’t be touched. And he is not.

“To me “Cowboy” is just a normal f***ing guy that could’ve been walking out of a saloon with some gloves on that’s gonna get the same licks I’d give anybody standing across the Octagon from me.”

‘The Great’ Is All-In

Having quit his job last year and leaving the business world behind, Hernandez is all in on mixed martial arts. The results speak for themselves. He has quickly established himself as one of the most promising prospects the lightweight division has seen in some time. And he will be damned if he lets a so-called part-timer beat him, even if it is Cerrone.

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“I put 100% of my energy into this,” said Hernandez. “This is all I do all day long. I don’t have a wife and I don’t have kids. I don’t like to f***ing play video games. When I play outside I play with a purpose. Everything I do is around this [MMA].

“This is how I escape if I’m getting too much time in the gym well then I’ll go outside. If I’m getting too much time outside then Ill train in the gym. That’s how I balance and that’s how I keep myself sane, that’s my escape.

“I’ll be damned if a guy that puts maybe 60% into this, 70% into this and 20 or 30 elsewhere is going to beat me. Shooting guns, riding horses, doing whatever the f*ck else he does, which is great, but I’ll be dammed if that guy can hold a candle to my undivided attention.”

Mike Straus @AKAstraus21 is a credentialed MMA journalist and a member of the MMAJA. He has been a fan of the sport since its inception and has been covering the sport professionally for three years. In the past, he has produced content for Fansided's Cagepages, mma-media.com, and Combatpress.com. He currently contributes for MyMMANews.com, he is a staff writer for Cagesidepress.com, and LowKickMMA.com. He most recently began writing for BJPenn.com.