Alex Hernandez: Believe to Achieve
If you were to speak to Alex Hernandez today, then his infectious levels of confidence would be one of the first things that you’d notice – but that hasn’t always been the case.
Looking back at the early stages of his career, he recalls how low his confidence used to be ‘I went through a phase where the anxiety I was feeling was completely deterring me from wanting to compete. I’ve always loved martial arts but it got to a point where the stress was getting to me and I realised that I wasn’t even enjoying myself. I remember getting in the cage for one of my early fights and the guy was staring at me and I just thought ‘fuck man, I’ve gotta deal with you in just a minute, can you just give me a second to myself here?’. I was so done with it. I got the fight over in the first round, but I just wanted a high five and to get out of the cage so I could go home and relax’. In a game of inches like MMA, any weakness that your opponent exhibits can go a long way, no matter how miniscule.
The law of attraction is the belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life; Alex spoke about the way he tried to channel this kind of energy before his UFC debut and really turn believing into achieving. ‘The more I continued to reiterate what I need to know to be true, the more I felt it on fight week and by the time the fight came around, I’ve never felt such mental fortitude. If people thought I was recklessly confident before, then fuck, you wanna see me now’ he said.
Next up, Hernandez will attempt to top his short notice debut and prove that this was no case of beginners luck. He takes on #15 ranked Olivier Aubin-Mercier on July 28th in Calgary, Canada – his first fight outside of America. ‘‘I don’t mind this trip, it’s just across the border, so it’s really not bad, it’s not like some countries where you don’t want to eat the food through fear of USADA or not being able to drink the water, or just anything that adds stress while you’re there. Canada should be a breeze, it won’t be a painful trip’ he said.
Last time we spoke, Alex had explained that he would like someone ranked higher than him, but he’s more than happy with the opponent that he has subsequently been provided with. ‘Really I just wanted someone in the top 15. The way I kind of break it down is into three tiers, 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15 – I’d imagine that I need to take out two of each tier to make it to the top. I’ve taken out one in Dariush, the next in Mercier and then we’re on to the next tier. So for me, this fight included, it’s a pretty logical path to the top’.
The Canadian only has one win by knockout, whereas he has eight by submission, so logic would suggest that Mercier will be looking to take this one to the canvas. Wherever this fight goes, Hernandez insists that he’s more than ready – ‘I know though that his safe space will always be the ground and at times he’s desperate to take things down. If he initially tries to stand off and let me dictate the pace with my feet, then I think he’ll shoot pretty quickly, or if he tries to stand and counter a bit then I’ll just knock him out on the feet. Either way though, I love the ground, that’s what I grew up doing’.
After his UFC debut lasted less than a minute, it will be interesting to see what more can be showcased by the newcomer; it’s fair to say he’s more than confident with the match-up. ‘I pride myself on being extraordinarily versatile, adaptive and keen on evolution, so no matter what challenges Mercier might present, I’ll react and dismantle him wherever the fight goes. I’ve got an idea of how the fight is going to go – Option A, it doesn’t make it out of the first round and Option B, it doesn’t make it past halfway of the second round. So I think there will be a little more time for me to showcase, a little more footwork to be shown, I don’t underestimate him, I’ve got a tonne of respect for him, but I don’t see any way that I don’t just completely dismantle this man’ he explained.
At a time when self-promotion can almost be more important than technical ability, Aubin-Mercier has adopted a ‘Canadian Gangster’ schtick that has done its job and at least made more people start talking about him. When asked if he felt the pressure of self-promotion within the UFC, Hernandez responded ‘Absolutely and you definitely want to define yourself before others get chance to, you’ve got an image to uphold. I’m just trying to be myself, the Canadian Gangster is a bit of an oxymoron, he’s having fun with it, I just don’t know how much higher it’s gonna take you up in the stakes’.
Alex last fought on March 3rd, but it’s not as if he’s been taking time off in the meantime. ‘‘I just train like a madman, I wake up and go from sun-up to sun-down, the only thing that really stops that is the odd little injury and then I’ll do my best to work around them. There’s never really any time off, and at this stage of my career there isn’t any time to be taking off’ he said. When discussing the way he trains, he revealed that he opts for the method of focusing on improving himself, rather than paying too much attention to his opponent and the skills that they possess. ‘I do sometimes think about the poor bastard that is standing across from me and thinking ‘why do I have to deal with that’’ he said, while laughing.
When you hear the stories of how Alex used to feel about fighting and the lack of confidence he held, it’s like a completely different person. Not to get too ahead of himself, but talking of his aspirations, he proclaimed ‘I just wanna be the best and I want any criticism of me to fall on deaf ears. I want to take the 55 belt, then drop down and take the 45 belt afterwards. Being a double champ is all the rage now and why only have one belt when you can have two?’. To get to where he wants to be though, he first needs to get past Aubin-Mercier, and it’s fair to say that confidence isn’t an issue here – ‘I’m excited for this opportunity, I’m gonna win this one and then the next time we speak, I’ll be in a whole other stratosphere’ he said.