Nohelin Hernandez (8-2 MMA) is set fight Rolando Velasco (13-5-1) at LFA 51 on Friday, September 28.
Hernandez enters the bantamweight bout on a two-fight winning streak with victories over Josh San Diego and Joe Neal. He said Velasco will pose a great match-up and another name he will add to his resume. Velasco captured the Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight title with his own win over San Diego and defended it over Neal.
Hernandez vs. Velasco
Hernandez is honing in on Velasco’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt when looking at the match-up. Six of Velasco’s 13 professional wins have come via submission.
“He’s a Jiu-Jitsu black belt and that’s a high level of accreditation that I’ll be fighting,” Hernandez told MMASucka. “It’s one thing to grapple in an MMA fight and another to grapple in a Jiu-Jitsu match.”
As far as Hernandez is concerned, Velasco will have to drag him to the ground in order to impose his grappling game. And he feels Velasco will be in for a rough night in trying to do so.
“People want to take me to the ground and think I have no ground game,” he said. “Before I didn’t, but now, it’s, ‘You can have a BJJ black belt, but now you’ll have to take me down before you can use it.’ It’s really hard to get me down. Even when I am down, it’s a lot harder to keep me down.”
Training at AKA
Hernandez credits the nearly four years he’s spent training at American Kickboxing Academy for the improvements.
“We have a well-run sparring session with coach Javier Mendez who’s obviously been around for a long time and has coached several champions. He’s got it down to a ‘T,’” Hernandez said. “We’ve got the best wrestling coach for MMA in Daniel Cormier, the UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion. We have the best MMA wrestler for the sport and the fact that I’ve been able to learn from him has evolved my game.”
Hernandez’s UFC Aspirations
Hernandez said it’d be “awesome” if he earned an LFA title shot with a win over Velasco, but his goal is to keep fighting until he’s in the UFC. And once he’s in the big-show, Hernandez said being a relevant name is his highest aspiration.
“I’m not really concerned about titles,” he said. “If I were to hold the UFC bantamweight strap that’d be great. We’re reaching and aspiring to reach the pinnacle but as long as I stay a notable name and a relevant name, I’ll get paid. And getting paid includes being the champion. I don’t care about titles, I don’t care about championships, I just want to be relevant.”
Hernandez has been one of the most active bantamweights in his pursuit to reach the UFC. He only launched his professional career in August 2016 and has fought 10 times since. The LFA 51 fight will mark his fourth bout of 2018.
In addition to activity, Hernandez feels his quickest route to the UFC is to keep winning and finishing fights, doing interviews and trying to attract attention and publicity, but in a positive way.
“The pot needs to be stirred a little bit but I’m not going to be throwing out the soup,” he said. (He added that he made up the phrase on the spot).
Hernandez will get his chance to inch closer to the UFC with a win over Velasco, but he wants it to be a finish.
“A decision win will put me in a good spot, but a finish, especially on the LFA platform, will give me an even better spot,” he said. “The game plan is to go out there and do my thing and give Rolando a bad night.”