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Alexander Hernandez is gunning for a fight with arguably the most exciting member of the UFC roster.
Hernandez (10-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is a lightweight contender on the rise following a pair of solid performances to begin his UFC tenure. He’s been pushing for a ranked name since beating Olivier Aubin-Mercier at UFC on FOX 30 in July, and given who is currently booked and who is available, Justin Gaethje (19-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) stands out among the bunch.
“Right now it’s Gaethje – that’s the guy who is available,” Hernandez told MMAjunkie. “Everybody else is booked up. I would love to take out that guy. I know I’m the best and I have to beat all these men to get to the top. I’m not going to discriminate against anybody; it doesn’t matter their name, shape or style. I just want a number.”
Hernandez made a splash in his octagon debut at UFC 222 in March when, on short notice, he brutally knocked out Beneil Dariush in just 42 seconds. That fight set the bar for Hernandez, who four months later returned to action and got the better of Aubin-Mercier for three rounds to take a decision.
Nicknamed “The Great,” Hernandez believes he has all the tools to be champion at 155 pounds. He was self-critical for allowing his sophomore UFC bout with Aubin-Mercier to reach the scorecards, but after a few months of reflection said he learned a lot and is more positive about the experience.
Hernandez, 26, said he’d like to fight Gaethje at UFC on FOX 31 on Dec. 15 or UFC 232 on Dec. 29, and he’s prepared to do what it takes to beat the former WSOF champ. Gaethje is known for his hellacious battles that routinely land in “Fight of the Year” discussion, and though Hernandez would be prepared for that, he said he doesn’t intend on leaving a piece of himself in the cage with Gaethje.
“I’ll leave my foot in his ass(expletive) – that’s the only piece of myself I’ll leave behind,” Hernandez said. “Our fight would either be a complete highlight-reel for me or it would be like all his other fights where it’s certainly a brutal match. I think I can approach this fight more intelligently and stylistically diverse than his other opponents. I can make it a highlight-reel for myself. I have a ton of respect for the guy, I know he’s dangerous as (expletive) so it could be a brutal war.”
Although Hernandez is eager to get a piece of Gaethje, he said there’s no telling if his request will come to fruition. With just two UFC fights under his belt, Hernandez is in a unique position where he’s already in the upper tier of the lightweight division without much UFC experience or the fanfare of other fighters who have been in the organization longer.
Hernandez understands his position in the weight class, but if anyone is going to give him a chance, he has faith it would be Gaethje.
“A lot of people have trepidation toward taking certain matchups,” Hernandez said. “Especially against like me, who is young and coming up and they have a lot more to lose than gain fighting me just based on me being new on the scene and not having as big a pull of popularity as the other guys who have been around for a long time. Gaethje seems like a very game opponent. He’s always game to fight, he just needs time. I’m hoping he bucks up. Hopefully the UFC makes it happen.”
If Hernandez does get Gaethje and pulls off the highlight-reel victory he thinks he’s capable of, he would be in a good position at 155 pounds. Hernandez said he has no desire to go through eight or more UFC fights before a title shot like the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson, but he said he’s not looking to skip the queue, either.
That’s why he thinks Goethe is the perfect fit.
“I’m in a place where I want this climb to the top to be aggressive, but I also got to respect those around me,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to be the next one in line after my next fight, or even after two fights. I pride myself on self-awareness and I don’t think four fights in I should be fighting for a title. I need to continue to grow and I need to learn a ton. I want to be in the eyes of Dana White in the UFC so I’m not getting trampled on like Tony Ferguson or these other guys who have to fight nine or 10 times to get any kind of looks. But I’m certainly not trying to rush it.”
For more on the UFC schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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