By Bill Green
The night will belong to the pride of Wichita, Kansas as 2016 US Olympic Bronze Medalist Niko Hernandez (6-0, 4 KOs) headlines Friday’s UFC Fight Pass event at the Kansas Star Arena, in Mulvane, KS. Hernandez will clash with Mexico’s Victor Trejo Garcia (16-9-1, 8 KOs) in an eight-round flyweight contest which will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass. The UFC Fight Pass stream will kickoffs at 7:30p ET.
Earlier this week, Hernandez spoke with Fightnews.com®.
However, prior to those bouts, the night will belong to the pride of Wichita, Kansas, and 2016 US Olympic Bronze Medalist Niko Hernandez (6-0, 4 KOs). Hernandez continues to draw big crowds in his home state of Kansas, which for the 2nd consecutive has lured outside Promoters, such as Salita Promotions, take full advantage of an already established boxing fan base.
The crowd-pleasing style of Hernandez will clash with Mexico’s Victor Trejo Garcia (16-9-1, 8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round flyweight bout streamed live on UFC Fight Pass. The live feed can be viewed at fightpass.ufc.com including a 7-day free trial for new customers. The action will kick off at 7:30PM ET which will include 2-3 other bouts.
Fresh off another sizzling workout, Hernandez, took time away from training to speak with Fightnews.com®.
Hello champ. In prior fights, one of the biggest challenges has been securing opponents. I know your father, Lewis Hernandez, takes care of that part of the business, and is doing a super job by the way, but have you had enough time or notice in preparing for Garcia?
Yea, actually, we have had plenty of time in terms of preparing for a bout. I was told that there were a couple of names being considered and that Garcia was one of them. I let my team and mostly in trust in my dad, he’s very underrated as a coach and our bond is so strong at the end of the day I trust him with my life each and every fight. It’s been that way since I was 9 years old.
After your last bout with Josue Morales, in the locker room, you appeared to be frustrated with your performance despite the fact that you won an easy UD and left the ring nearly mark free. With the smaller weight classes not gaining National attention throughout boxing history are you simply trying too hard to obtain explosive knockouts each and every time you fight in front of the home crowd?
I mean, I wouldn’t say frustrated because getting that W is the key. I do set high expectations for myself and I always feel like I can deliver those types of knockouts. I’m my worst critic. But I realize that some guys just don’t want to engage, their job is to survive, and I did my best with what Morales was willing to give me. He simply didn’t want to exchange and was too defensive. Not to make excuses, but I suffered a cut during camp which didn’t allow me to get much sparring in. But again, I’m not one to make excuses; I’m one to make my fans proud. This Friday I plan on giving them something special to talk about for a long time.
Your dad has talked to me about the process of developing you the right way and that styles such as Morales are needed. However, this Friday, you are facing a fellow crowd pleasing Mexican in Victor Tejo Garcia 16-9-1 (8). Garcia’s team are very confident coming into this bout pointing out that Garcia has boxed professionally with over 115 rounds compared to only 27 rounds for you. What are your thoughts regarding this comparison?
Wow, (laughing) that is a new one. You could argue that he has received more damage to his body than. I don’t get paid for overtime and I’m known as a powerful puncher especially in this weight class. That being said, this fight is an 8 rounder and if they are sliding to us getting tired than they are in major trouble. I get stronger as the fight goes and I guess they will have to just see for themselves on Friday night.
Garcia has faced former Mexican world champion Moises Fuentes 25-6-1 (14), WBC FECOMBOX Super Flyweight champion, Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (14), WBC Latino Super Bantamweight champ, Diego Ruiz 20-2 (10), and 17-year-old Phenom, David Cuellar 10-0 (4). That’s an impressive resume wouldn’t you agree? At least on paper, wouldn’t you agree that he will be your best opponent to date?
Yea, I hear he is tough and I wouldn’t want it any other way. He’s a southpaw and we have really worked on how to attack southpaws. I’m really proud of how I’ve improved with turning southpaw as well. I feel strong heading into this bout, fully prepared. It’s true he’s fought some names but he hasn’t fought Niko Hernandez and that will be the difference. Sometimes I feel like I don’t get credit for some of my achievements too but that’s ok, I will continue to show them.
You have been doing this for a long while, with over 100 amateur wins. What could they be missing?
From the age of 9, I have won every National Title come to think about. I sometimes sit back and hear some say “oh, this kid won Golden Gloves or this or that, he’s going to be good.” Honestly, I think it’s because we are from Kansas, it’s that way in other sports. They overlook us and count us out. That’s what makes us hungry. We come from nothing and strive to make sure we are champions. I remember those tough days of having certain bills lead to no electricity or whatever. We always had food, we always had family and we always had boxing.”
Even though your heart belongs to Kansas, do you feel like at some point you may have to hit the road to seek bigger opportunities or to broaden your fan base such as what Top Rank has done with Terence Crawford?
I love fighting at home and giving the fans the big fight atmosphere but yea most definitely I need to do what it takes to secure my legacy. If that means to fight in someone’s backyard then so be it. But rest assured, I will be representing my Kansas heritage for sure no matter what.
You have appeared on CBS Sports, PPV, DAZN and now ShoBox via UFC Fight Pass. How soon can we expect you to have a steady network backing you?
I mean it’s been difficult with Promotions working with one another and just with the business side of the sports etc. I try not to worry about that stuff because my job is to train and my dad always says “don’t stress about that stuff, focus on one fight at a time, be patient.” But, I would be lying to say that I don’t. I enjoy being a father and I want to provide for my son and give him a bright future that means secure financially too. Like I said us little guys don’t get the exposure or credit at this weight. They say I’m not fighting any big names; my question is who do you want me to fight? I duck nobody. Nobody is exactly calling me out; if I’m hype job than call me out!!
Wow, you are definitely fired up for a Friday. Anything else you want to add?
lol yea I’m ready mentally and physically. To all my fans out there thank you, to all the kids in school, I will be coming to see you soon as it’s been awhile, to my sponsors, Indian Motorcycles and Tecate thank you. For the haters, if you think I’m not meant for the pros or a hype job, then check out UFC Fight Pass on Friday night. Much like the days of one of my favorite fighters, Michael Carbajal, I plan to light a fire within this division.
Following the UFC Fight Pass stream is a Showtime/ShoBox doubleheader showcasing welterweight Shohjahon Ergrashev (15-0, 14 KOs) against Mykal Fox (19-0, 5 KOs) plus super bantamweight Jesse Angel Hernandez (12-1, 7 KOs) going toe-to-toe with Thomas Patrick Ward (25-0, 4 KOs). The ShoBox telecast begins at 10p.