The UFC rankings act as a key indicator as to where a fighter sits in their competitive weight division. They range from #1 – #15, with the majority of athletes never receiving a number next to their name. Those who do are recognized as some of the best in their chosen profession of fighting.
For some, it takes years of grit, determination, and success under the bright lights to reach the esteemed #15 spot, let alone the coveted #1. However, there have been more than a few odd cases since the introduction of rankings that have seen competitors surpass more deserving contenders.
Through all the controversy, there is one name who not only passed many fellow combatants quickly but did so after one octagon appearance, and that’s Alexander Hernandez.
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Alexander “The Great” Hernandez (10-2) competes in the lightweight division, which is ideal considering his 5-foot-9, stocky, Eddie Alvarez-resembling frame. He made his debut for the UFC in March of 2018, where he filled in on short notice to face #13 Beneil Dariush. It took the 26-year-old just 42 seconds to flatten the seasoned veteran, making him an overnight sensation in the MMA world.
In just one fight with the UFC, Hernandez shot up to the #13 position in the UFC lightweight rankings.
Hernandez is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and possesses decent striking which he mixes well with his wrestling. One thing he always brings to the table is raw, explosive power. Standing and trading with “The Great” isn’t a preferred gameplan.
To say the performance changed his life is an understatement. The ‘Performance of the Night’ knockout transformed Hernandez from ‘unknown cage fighter’ to ‘hot prospect.’ It was one of the most emphatic debuts of 2018, and Hernandez was here to stay.
With the octagon jitters out of the way, the American was booked four months later to square off against equally praised Oliver Aubin-Mercier in Calgary.
His opponent, Aubin-Mercier, entered the bout on a four-fight winning streak and had the home advantage. The youthful Hernandez never seemed fazed by this, and put on a performance that was anything but one-dimensional.
Hernandez secured four takedowns, as well as a total of 86 strikes. His ability to control, dictate the pace and implement his ever-improving grappling carried the 26-year-old to a unanimous decision win. He was now 2-0 in his UFC career – not a bad start at all, but things were heating up for the young prospect, and a certain Cowboy was on the tip of his tongue.
In January, Alexander Hernandez was chosen to welcome Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone back to the lightweight division; the fight was set to headline the prelim proportion of the first-ever ESPN card – a monumental moment for mixed martial arts.
Leading up to the biggest fight of his life, Hernandez talked an unholy amount of trash, going as far to say that Cerrone was “a stepping stone,” and he would “crush him like a pebble”. The always humble “Cowboy” remained quiet, warning the youngster that he would pay for his words – and he did pay.
“The Great” walked into this fight as the betting favorite, despite all of Cerrone’s achievements (including the record he’d break on the night for most UFC wins).
Cerrone put a clinical beating on the lightweight prospect. He made Hernandez pay for every second of foul mouthing he initiated in, knocking him down in the second round and topping it off with punches to grab the stoppage win. After his ‘big brother’ beating, Hernandez was quick to credit the veteran, going as far as to say that Cerrone “taught me I need to learn to fight.”
Since his knockout loss in January, not much has been said by Hernandez, who remains a solid prospect in the talent stacked 155-pound division. Now 2-1 in the UFC, the American is eager to rinse the taste of defeat from his mouth and is currently scheduled to face Francisco Trinaldo at UFC San Antonio, on July 20.
Trinaldo is a dangerous striker who boasts a black belt in kickboxing. The Brazilian is also a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, emphasizing the well roundness of his overall game. This will be the second fight in a row that Hernandez has faced a veteran such as Trinaldo, who will walk into the contest at the experienced age of 40, a rare sight in mixed martial arts. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old is the betting favorite over his opponent, who has previously competed at middleweight.
All in all, Alexander Hernandez is still a talent to keep your eye on in the lightweight division. With kickboxing and wrestling that improves with every performance, we are yet to see the best from him, as he still has years until his physical prime. Don’t count him out come July 20, as another knockout win may be right around the corner.
Steven specialises in MMA and Lethwei. He loves a good 1-2 down the middle.