The latest in a long line of LFA flyweight champions to join the UFC, Victor Altamirano will enter the Octagon on Saturday following his narrow decision victory over Chris Candelario on Contender Series in 2021.
With his wide stance and low hands, the Mexican’s taekwondo background is evident right from the opening bell. A southpaw, at the start of fights he’ll pump his jab out to find his range and start working kicks to the inside and outside of his opponent’s lead leg. Once he gets settled he’ll go to work with a left straight into an outside leg kick, which is a combination he’s willing to throw it two or three times in succession if it’s landing.
Altamirano will throw that left straight to the body as well as the head and also mixes in a left hook to the body, but his kicks are the clear highlight of his standup. In addition to the low kicks he utilizes from the opening moments “El Magnifico” will punish his opponent’s bodies with front kicks and body kicks to the open side. He’s also happy to throw multiple kicks in combination, and occasionally mixes in flashier spinning kicks depending on how the fight is going.
As impressive as his striking is, four of Altamirano’s five finishes as a pro have come by submission. On the ground he’s arguably most dangerous off of his back, as Lloyd McKinney found out at LFA 95 when Altamirano caught him in a triangle choke. He’s able to use his long legs to create space for a standup or threaten a submission, and he’ll mix in elbows from the bottom as well. Altamirano also excels at keeping opponent’s inactive when he’s on the bottom in order to force a standup from the referee, as he did several times against Nate Smith at LFA 100 when he won the promotion’s flyweight title.
Altamirano’s taekwondo style does mean he keeps his hands quite low, and he relies a lot on head movement to avoid opponent’s strikes. His wide stance also leaves his lead leg hanging out for single-leg attempts, and his high kicking volume means opponents can score takedowns if they manage to catch one. He hasn’t proven particularly difficult to take down for a lot of his opponents, though admittedly Altamirano sometimes even chooses to jump guard in order to look for a submission. Getting taken down in fights where he was dominating on the feet has resulted in some of his wins being a lot narrower than they probably needed to be, and his only pro loss was a submission to former UFC fighter Jarred Brooks where Brooks was able to hold Altamirano down for almost the entire duration of the fight.
With his entertaining striking style, Altamirano could definitely endear himself to UFC fans while also challenging flyweights that may struggle with his length and kicking game. That being said, the top end of the UFC’s flyweight division features a lot of fighters with strong grappling credentials. Altamirano is always a threat to get a submission from the bottom, but I think the frequency with which he gets taken down will temper his overall potential in the UFC. He’s still a great addition, and I think he’ll put on some fun fights during his time with the promotion.
Out Within 1-2 Years
A Mainstay Through the Years
Undefeated since losing his very first pro bout, flyweight Carlos Hernandez will make his UFC debut on Saturday against fellow debutante and Contender Series winner Victor Altamirano.
Hernandez’s stance switching and active footwork are the standout characteristics of his striking game. While it’s obviously not the same caliber as fighters like Dominick Cruz or TJ Dillashaw, those are the kinds of fighters that immediately jump to mind when watching Hernandez move around the cage. In the opening moments of fights Hernandez will focus on using his jab and 1-2’s, as well as work at his opponent’s lead leg with kicks. As he gets into a rhythm Hernandez loves to switch from orthodox to southpaw and immediately fire a left straight off the stance switch.
The American is at his best when he finishes his combinations with a hard leg or body kick, which often hinders any intention his opponents may have to counter him. His 1-2 into an outside leg kick is one of his best combinations, and the regular damage he does to his opponent’s lead leg often pays off as the bout goes on. Hernandez will also run up with flying knees in open space, and he excels at quickly grabbing control of his opponent’s head in the clinch to land a knee or two before breaking off to resume striking in space.
Similar to Altamirano, Hernandez’s skills on the feet shouldn’t overshadow the fact that four of his pro wins are by submission, with rear-naked chokes being his go-to method of victory. Hernandez will actively pursue takedowns as the opportunities are presented, and he’s particularly good at single leg attacks. He’ll catch opponent’s kicks to get things to the mat, and also loves to reach down and grab the opponent’s lead leg while pushing their torso with his free hand to get them down. On the ground Hernandez has strong top pressure, and if opponents do manage to work to their knees for a standup he’s quick to grab ahold of their neck and threaten a guillotine.
One thing about Hernandez that stands out is that even though he’s very mobile, he is willing to plant his feet and throw hard shots on the lead or as counters. While this helps him in terms of the damage he can do, planting his feet like that does leave him open to takedowns. In their Contender Series bout Daniel Barez was able to take Hernandez down multiple times when Hernandez planted to throw a naked left hook and Barez ducked in for a double-leg. Hernandez also leaves himself open to counters when he swings big and misses, and he’s vulnerable to strikes if opponents are able to back him up in a straight line and negate his ability to circle out.
Although Hernandez’s Contender Series win was a split decision and Altamirano’s ended up being unanimous, I’d argue that Hernandez’s performance was the more impressive of the two. That doesn’t mean that Hernandez should necessarily be favored here, but I do think his affinity for single-leg takedowns could be a serious problem for Altamirano if the Mexican can’t grab a submission or get back to his feet.
Hernandez’s pre-Contender Series competition wasn’t the highest, but I really like his skillset and think he’s going to fit well in the UFC’s flyweight division. If he can get past Altamirano it’s going to be interesting to see how he does against the level of competition in the UFC, so hopefully he can continue developing his skills and make improvements from fight to fight.
Out Within 1-2 Years
A Mainstay Through the Years