Not much has been going on in the life of UFC middleweight Anthony Hernandez since his last fight in September.
That night, Hernandez overwhelmed Marc-Andre Barriault for 12 minutes before sinking in an arm triangle choke midway through the third round. According to UFC Hall of Famer and commentator Daniel Cormier, it was a perfect performance for “Fluffy.” Hernandez agreed.
“That’s what I planned to do, honestly,” Hernandez told UFC.com after the fight. “I said I was going to put the pace on him and break him and that’s exactly what I did. It’s back to the drawing board. [I’ll] see what I have to work on. I bet I can finish it faster next time.”
That’s exactly what Hernandez has done over these last eight months. Rather than taking a short break to go on vacation or just take well deserved time off, Hernandez dove right back into the gym and began working to make corrections that could lead him to faster finishes down the line. While developing his overall mixed martial arts tool set, it’s the fine details that Hernandez has incorporated into his training regimen that gives him the belief that he can capitalize on any miscues from opponents in future contests.
“Listening to my coaches, following the game plan and being relentless and moving forward,” Hernandez noted as his keys to success. “That’s been working great for me.
“Just putting it all together, rinse and repeat. Really breaking down the areas like shoulder position, all that stuff. Just the little details. And conditioning like crazy so I can keep putting on these performances.”
While Hernandez feels like he’s in his best physical shape thus far in his career, it’s also his new outlook on fighting that he believes will guide him toward even more successful performances. Unlike his amateur mixed martial arts days, where Hernandez focused strictly on striking, he’s evolved into becoming a very well-rounded athlete with tremendous grappling.
Having such a wide variety of skills gives him confidence leading into his upcoming bout against Edmen Shahbazyan in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Hill.
“I’m a lot more relaxed now,” Hernandez said. “I’ve been doing this for so long that I just forget stuff sometimes. I have great coaches that will ask me questions and make me think about it again. [Striking’s] been my favorite go-to [technique]. I’ve been putting a lot more work into wrestling than striking, but my striking feels clean, too. I just have to go in there relaxed and remember that it’s just a fight.”
“When I was younger, I used to get nervous about getting taken down, now I don’t really give a f***. I’m comfortable everywhere.”
Hernandez also credits his two children for keeping him focused on training and competition, and points to them as his inspiration to continue chasing his mixed martial arts dreams.
“I’ve matured a lot,” Hernandez said. “I would say that my kids have probably helped me with that and chilling the f*** out. I got to realize that it’s not just me, because I could give a f*** about myself, but for my kids, I will make sure to do everything right.”
Shahbazyan earned his first win in four fights back in December, putting away Dalcha Lungiambula in the second round at UFC 282: Blachowicz vs Ankalaev, earning himself a Performance of the Night bonus. When Shahbazyan is on top of his game and dictating the fight, Hernandez believes he’s quite a talented opponent. However, Hernandez vows to never take his foot off the gas, drown his foe and choke him out before Shahbazyan ever has a chance to get his game plan moving.
“I think he’s good,” Hernandez said of Shahbazyan. “I think he’s really good when you let him do what he wants to do, but that’s not my gameplan. My gameplan is to get in his face and drown him.
“I think it could be a fun banger, but obviously I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go in there and stick to my gameplan and see it through.”