Alexander Hernandez recognizes he wasn’t the fans, the UFC’s or Donald Cerrone’s first choice of opponent for the inaugural UFC on ESPN+ card on Saturday night.
But even though he has less total fights on his résumé than “Cowboy” has just under the UFC banner, Hernandez is far from concerned about how his skill set will hold up once they enter the Octagon in Brooklyn.
“First, I’m grateful to Cowboy for taking the fight, maybe against his better judgement,” Hernandez said during the pre-fight press conference Thursday. “But, you know, I’m not drawn in by the promotion, the city, even his image or persona or anything. It’s just another day. For me, standing across from Cowboy, I’m looking through the fighter. I’m looking at the man. I think the persona and everything is a big distraction. I just see myself facing an insecure little lad, swinging on a pop gun with a feather in his hat.”
A normally calm, yet noticeably more drawn out Cerrone immediately snatched up the mic to respond before laying out a warning out for his younger opponent.
“Little insecure, popping cattle, f*cking whatever. That’s good,” Cerrone replied. “I can’t wait for Saturday man. I’m just excited. Listen my little friend, I’m not one to sit there and talk. So, if you’ve got big things to say, we’re fighting on Saturday. Keep it professional. We just stood in the back and you didn’t have much to say —”
“You didn’t have much to say either partner,” Hernandez interrupted. “I’ll tell you this little friend, I’m going to sending your geriatric ass yee-hawing back to the stable on Saturday.”
Showing more and more signs of agitation, whether it be from his weight cut or Hernandez’s words, Cerrone gave one final warning before throwing the mix down.
“I understand you're talking live, but Saturday is coming,” Cerrone said. “So let’s fight for money on Saturday. But I’m not a guy to sit here and talk shit to you because I know what floor you’re on. They f*cked up and put me in the wrong room so we’re right next to you little motherf*cker. So, if you have something to say, you can come knock on my door, okay?”
Smirking, Hernandez refused to let Cerrone have the final say in their exchange.
“We’re not on the same floor,” Hernandez said. “I’m in a different suite, for one. For two, you’re all buddy buddy in the back, calling me all healthy and nice. I do look f*cking healthy. I look great. You look like you just served two terms in the f*cking oval office. You look worn out, you look aged and withered.”
For Hernandez (10-1), this marks his 12th professional fight and third under the UFC. In a stark comparison, Cerrone (34-11, 1 NC) is making the walk to the cage for the 47th time, with 40 of these fights coming under the UFC/WEC banner.
Combine this with several UFC records, including the most most finishes (15) and wins (21) in company history, and not even Hernandez can help but show respect to the veteran pugilist. Once the cage door closes behind them, all of that respect will go out the window.
“Sure, I respect Donald,” Hernandez said. “It was a cool come up and everything. But, there’s a difference between seeing someone on the screen and seeing someone stand across from you. There will be none of that respect held. I won’t respect his space, I won’t respect the air he’s breathing, I’m going to press and break him in the Octagon. It’s a completely different world now.”
As for whether Hernandez’s comments are affecting him in any way, Cerrone shook it off and pointed to his 13-year career before claiming “The Great” would be in for a rude awakening on Saturday night.
“No, [Hernandez’s words] don’t affect me at all,” Cerrone said. “When I left 155, I was ranked No. 2. It means I beat everybody up there except for the champion. So, for him to come back and say he’s going to steamroll and I’m a stepping stone, I am a f*cking boulder in your way. I fought the who’s who —.”
But again, Hernandez refused to let up as he snatched up the mic and uncorked another venomous barrage of words.
“You’re a jester in the way,” Hernandez interrupted again. “You’re an active participant. You’re concerned with entertaining people, I am on the road to the throne. I’m concerned with kingship and you’re a jester. You’re a stepping stone.”