by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
As Bellator Fighting Championships second season fast approaches, the promotion announced one of its biggest signings to date with the addition of former UFC lightweight Roger Huerta to its line-up. He’ll debut on April 8 at their first show of the new season.
Huerta has been absent from the fight game since last September following a loss to Gray Maynard, and his eventual exit from the UFC. Now he enters the eight-man tournament in Bellator with a chance to earn a shot at lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez later this year.
“The thing that Bellator has that nobody else has is that tournament format,” Huerta explained when stating why he signed with Bellator. “Us fighters control our own destiny. In order for me to continue to fight, I’ve got to win. I keep winning, I’ll continue to fight in the tournament.”
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney made a point to state that while Huerta’s signing is important for the organization, he is only guaranteed a shot at the lightweight gold if he makes in through the 155-pound tournament.
“He’s got to beat three fighters, and if he can do that he’ll earn the right to fight Eddie Alvarez in a world title fight, which would be magical, but there’s a road that has to be traveled before he gets there, so it remains to be seen,” said Rebney.
For Huerta’s part, he eluded to the activity that Bellator will bring him, keeping him active with three fights spanning April, May, and June, assuming he continues on in the tournament, as a major factor in landing with the promotion.
“I wanted to put in as many fights as I could this year as well, and the best way to do that is to fight for Bellator,” said Huerta. “I know if I continue to win on these fights, then I continue on in the tournament. Therefore, I have the possibility of fighting four times this year.”
Since exiting the UFC last year, Huerta has been working on film roles, including a slot in the upcoming video game turned movie “Tekken.” For now though, acting will have to take a backseat to fighting.
“Yeah, it’s going to be on hold and it has to be because this tournament is going to be pretty intense,” he said about his acting career.
The deal to land Huerta is a long term, exclusive contract, according to Rebney, that Bellator negotiated with his manager Jeff Clark over a period of time. At the end of the day, Huerta is happy to be back to fighting and has no misgivings about being in the tournament as opposed to being guaranteed a title shot from day one.
“This is like a second chance for me,” said Huerta. “Obviously, I came off of two losses in the UFC recently against Kenny Florian and then Gray Maynard, and now this is a second chance for me as a fighter, as an MMA athlete, and to be able to get back up to the top.”