by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The addition of Roger Huerta to Bellator Fighting Championships gives the fledgling promotion another star on its roster, but it can’t be ignored that the lightweight left the UFC to make it happen.
For the last few years, Huerta occupied one of the top spots in the UFC’s 155-pound division, picking up six wins against only two losses, and defeating several solid fighters including Clay Guida and Leonard Garcia.
While very happy about his new deal with Bellator, the California born fighter still speaks well about his former employers, and says there was no ill will with his exit.
“There’s no hard feelings,” Huerta said on Monday. “I think everything is great, I had a good relationship with them when I went out the door, when I was changing my career. More power to them.”
Being the first mixed martial artist to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated and given the popularity around the UFC, Huerta hit the next level of the sports’ growth while competing in the Octagon. He believes he owes them a debt of gratitude for what they did for him and his career.
“I’ve been blessed. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them,” Huerta said.
Getting in on the ground floor with Bellator, Huerta is ready to prove himself all over again. Dropping his last two fights, against Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard, rejuvenated Huerta’s fighting spirit, and he’s ready to prove that when he enters the eight-fighter tournament set to begin on April 8.
“To be honest, I feel really, really blessed to be where I’m at today, signing with Bellator and signing with Bjorn (Rebney),” said Huerta. “These guys out here are trying to make something happen. Honestly, it’s very unique, this tournament format is unique, and again you’re going to get the best out of these guys.
“These guys got to be dedicated. It’s not like you win the first round and then you’re going to go off and party. It’s not like that. You’ve got to win, go back in the gym, train your butt off, go back in the cage, fight, win, and so on.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said on Monday that he expects to announce Huerta’s opening round match-up for the lightweight tournament in the coming days. While leaving the UFC was tough, Huerta is happy to start a new chapter in his career with Bellator.