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Anthony Hernandez MMA Fighter

By Ricardo Robles
Photos by Rollie Robles

“I think it’s here. Turn right here.” It’s almost 5:00 pm, and Anthony Hernandez was told to be at the Sportsmen’s Lodge by 5:00 for the weigh-ins. Hernandez will be fighting his fifth pro MMA fight. With four professional fights under his belt, he remains undefeated and will be putting that record on the line the day after weigh-ins. 

But, how does an individual get to this point, with an undefeated record and waiting to weigh-in for his next professional cage fight? You don’t just wake up one day and jump in the cage, not if you are serious about your career as an MMA fighter. Hernandez’s journey began in 2007 under the tutelage of Sensei Joey Alvarado, a former MMA fighter and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. “I first started out at a local gym out in Eagle Rock called SoCal Fight Gym back in 2007. The instructor was Joey Alvarado. There I learned Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing and wrestling.” Enjoying what you do has a lot to do with how successful you are in life. Hernandez used that mindset in his approach to MMA. “I loved every bit of it, and haven’t stopped training since,” says Hernandez about his training.
MMA Los Angeles Fighter

Standing six feet two inches tall and fighting at 170, the welterweight division, Hernandez doesn’t take any part of MMA for granted, when it comes to his training, which is a big part of his success. “My training covers all aspects of Mixed Martial Arts.” Nevertheless, like all fighters, he does have a strong suit. “I would like to say my boxing skills in MMA have flourished above others because of the time I have spent on that particular craft.”

Hernandez stays busy, and works hard to maintain that perfect record. “I wake every morning at 5:30am for strength and conditioning at the UFC Gym in Rosemead. Then at 10:00am, I will drive over to Black House in Gardena for wrestling practice. That practice will end around 12:00.  I will then rest and recover, and cook meals until 5:00pm. At 5:00pm, I will head over to Fight Academy in Pasadena for kickboxing and jiu jitsu. At 7:00pm I will head over to the Arcadia track and get my cardio in, mostly a few miles followed by sprint intervals. After that, I feel I have had a complete day of training and I feel satisfied. I do this 4 times a week.”

Keeping such a hectic schedule might burn out the average person. The average person would not be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to become a high-caliber cage fighter. Hernandez is not an average person. “I have always loved to work out and keep my body looking good, so when it comes to training and getting ready for a fight, I just absolutely love it and feel comfortable in the grind.”
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Grinding, or maybe grueling, however, also describe the weight cut for a fight. Anthony was told to report at 5:00pm for his fifth pro fight, and at 6:45, he was still waiting to weigh-in.  “I don’t know how much longer I can take this. This is ridiculous. I feel like shit.” People who have never fought before, don’t understand this part of the fight game. Hernandez had to dehydrate himself, like all fighters do, to make the welterweight limit. He was on weight before 5:00pm, and ready to rehydrate. Hernandez was looking drawn out and pale.  The doctor was finally doing the prefight checkup, but there was still no word on when he would be able to weigh-in. 

“Growing up as a kid, I was always a boxing fan. My dad and grandfather would always order every big PPV fight. So just growing up and seeing that really grew on me.” Watching boxing on TV was a big influence on his life, but it came to be Hernandez’s turn to engage in combat sports. “As an amateur, I went 7-1.” Those seven wins included two TKOs, with his only loss coming via split decision.  “I was the Pure MMA Middleweight champion, and ended being ranked #1 middleweight in the state in California in 2012.”

After his stellar amateur career, it was time to make the transition to fighting professionally. For a fighter and his team, that decision doesn’t come easily, and it is not taken lightly. “My jump to pro was made on sacrifice, determination, and confidence. I felt that if I dominated the amateur circuit, that I could do the same in the pros. So everything is going as planned, and we look to take things to the next level in the next few years.” Having thus far finished all four of his opponents in the professional cage, there is no doubt that Hernandez has made the correct decision.

It was 7:30pm, two and a half hours after Hernandez was told to report for weigh-ins, and he finally got to step on the scale. Hernandez and his opponent took turns stepping on the scale. With a one-pound allowance, both fighters easily made weight. The fighters squared off, and gave everyone in attendance a photo opportunity. Hernandez shook hands with his opponent, and it was finally time to start the rehydration process. Hernandez began with a special rehydration formula given to him by his sponsor. Every fighter has their meal that they like to eat after weigh-ins. As for Hernandez, his choice is pasta. Continuing to take in liquids, Hernandez made his way to dinner before heading home to rest and get his mind focused on the upcoming fight. 

“True story, I started in MMA from seeing the IFL (International Fight League) on TV. My coach and training partner now, Savant Young, was a guy I used to watch on TV, and now him being a friend of mine is really crazy.” Not only does Young coach and train with Hernandez, he also corners him in his fights. 

With training, weigh-ins, rehydration and all the other fight preparation items, which most people don’t see, out of the way, it was time to fight. Hernandez would be the fourth fight on the fight card.  Ask any fighter how they feel before a fight, and their answer is generally the same. They have a concoction of emotions, a potion strong enough to debilitate them or potent enough to power them through a fight. “My feelings before a fight are always the same. The fear, nerves, anxiety, the adrenaline and excitement all keep me sharp and ready to step in the cage. Believe it or not, I don’t care how I feel but rather how my fans and the people who have gone to support me feel. That’s who I care about. I care more about their feelings towards my performance, so I try not to let them down.”

With his fists clinched and eyes fixed straight ahead, Hernandez’s opponent, Daniel “The Animal” McWilliams, made his way to the cage first. Hernandez followed, with techno music reverberating throughout the venue as he advanced toward the cage. “I don’t know, but techno music just pumps me up to fight.” Hernandez gave everyone in his corner a hug before ascending into the cage, his chosen battlefield.

One of the fight officials on hand locked the cage, and there was no turning back. It was now time to find out if Hernandez would continue his undefeated streak. McWilliams, the man staring Hernandez down from across the cage, is a highly experienced veteran with more that forty fights, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. As soon as the referee yelled for them to fight, McWilliams quickly forged ahead toward Hernandez. McWilliams grabbed Hernandez, and took the fight to the ground immediately. Hernandez had no plans to stay at the bottom. Hernandez quickly reversed his McWilliams, and came out on top.
Hernandez was in half-guard, and started dropping elbows. McWilliams, being the veteran that he is, was able to get back to full guard. Unfortunately for McWilliams, that did not impede Hernandez. Hernandez dropped one elbow after another. With each thundering elbow, the excitement grew in the crowd. Hernandez dropped yet another elbow, and another. The referee gave McWilliams every opportunity to defend himself and continue the fight. One final elbow, and the referee could hold off no longer. The referee jumped in to stop Hernandez from inflicting any more damage. Hernandez had defeated McWilliams, and was the winner, once again.
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“After my fight, I feel a sense of excitement, a time of celebration, a sense of relief and enjoyment. The hard work has been put in, and the results have been shown. There is no feeling like it.  You are a God for one night!” Indeed he was. Jubilation filled everyone in his corner and every single member of his supporters in the crowd.

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While feeling that rush that fighters feel after a win, Hernandez keeps levelheaded and maintains his gaze toward the future. “My future is bright. I look to get a few more wins on the local scene and then make my way to the UFC.” 

While this win is exhilarating, Hernandez clearly knows that there are greater challenges ahead, and he most certainly understands that you don’t conquer those challenges on your own. “I want to give thanks to ChingasosMMA for taking the time out to interview me and take pictures of me during my fight camp. I want to thank my sponsors Fight Me Clothing, Lambs to Lions Clothing, Fight Formula, and PT-RN Healthcare. I want to thank my coaches Savant Young at Fight Academy, Kenny Johnson at Black House, my manager Cesar Garcia, and all my family, friends and training partners who continue to support and grind with me each and every day.”