Bellator Fighting Championships announced Monday its biggest signing yet, former UFC lightweight Roger Huerta. Huerta will fight in Bellator's lightweight tournament on April 8. If he wins, he'll move onto fight in May and June.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, Huerta said that he sees this opportunity to fight with Bellator as a second chance for his career. He quickly rose to the top of the UFC lightweight division, but then fell out of favor with losses to Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard and controversial comments about his employer.
Huerta wants to put all that behind him, and thinks that Bellator's tournament format is the perfect way for him to do that. He said that he likes that he can fight in April, May and June, and that he controls his own destiny.
"It's like March Madness. The best team is going to win. It's perfect for me," Huerta said.
If he gets through the lightweight, eight-man tournament, Huerta will face season one winner Eddie Alvarez.
Huerta's last bout was in September, a decision loss to Gray Maynard. Before that, he had last fought in August of 2008, and was beat by Kenny Florian. In between fights, Huerta tried acting, with a roles in the movie "Tekken" and "Circle of Pain."
This announcement not only marks a return to fighting for Huerta, but a major coup for Bellator. Huerta is the only mixed martial artist to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and the popularity he will bring to the new promotion will help it as is moves from being just on ESPN Deportes to a wider distribution that will include Fox Sports, NBC and Telemundo.
The signing also is a risk for Huerta. Since he comes into the Bellator lightweight tournament as the most highly touted fighter, he will also have a target on his back, but he said that he is looking forward to the challenge.
"I'm hungry. I'm ready."