CALGARY, Alberta — Canadian lightweight Olivier Aubin-Mercier has only lost once fighting on home soil and never against an opponent from outside his country.
He doesn’t see that changing this Saturday when he takes on Alexander Hernandez in the main card opener of UFC on FOX 30 here at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Making this home court defense even more important is the fact that Hernandez has vowed to win over the Canadian fans after already infiltrating the country during a recent trip to Vancouver where he was working with EA Sports on the UFC 3 video game.
Aubin-Mercier, a native of Montreal, laughed when the possibility was raised that Hernandez might turn the Calgary crowd in his favor.
“How is that possible?” Aubin-Mercier told MMA Fighting at a media event Thursday. “I don’t know. Does he even eat maple syrup or something? Maybe he should start trying like that.
“Vancouver is a great place, I don’t think he’s going to win the Canadian hearts. I think he’s going to give a really good fight, probably make a lot of fans here, but not because he showed something crazy. Because I’m going to knock him out.”
There’s more than just national pride on the line for Aubin-Mercier. With four straight victories under his belt, he’s been inching his way up the lightweight rankings and a 53-second TKO of Evan Dunham at UFC 223 this past April — Aubin-Mercier’s first-ever finish by strikes — put the 29-year-old firmly on the map in arguably the UFC’s toughest division.
Hernandez only has one UFC fight under his belt, a shocking first-round finish of Beneil Dariush that vaulted him into the top-15 of the UFC’s official contenders’ list in March. So not only can Aubin-Mercier restore order by defeating an opponent with less Octagon experience, he can do so with what he expects to be a supportive crowd behind him.
“For sure, he’s on my turf right now and I don’t like people stepping on my turf,” said Aubin-Mercier.
As if to stress the seriousness of the situation, Aubin-Mercier and his associates “Kung Fu Master” and “Crazy Mike” arrived at the UFC on FOX 30 media day dressed in all gray and black, all in shades, with Aubin-Mercier donning a black cowboy hat. Their appearance was fitting given that Aubin-Mercier has begun referring to himself as “The Canadian Gangster.”
Aubin-Mercier adopted the gimmick at UFC 223, partially as a wink and a nod to Conor McGregor, who went on a rampage following an April 5 media day for that event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, attacking a bus full of fighters with a thrown dolly.
On Thursday, “The Notorious” struck a plea deal that resulted in all felony charges from that incident being dismissed, though part of McGregor’s punishment involves him having to undergo a few days of anger management and community service. Aubin-Mercier jokingly offered some advice to the UFC and his fellow gangster as to how they could make the most of the situation.
“I think they should follow him doing the day of work,” said Aubin-Mercier. “It would be like a TV show or something, that would be great.”