Bellator calls Monday press conference, expected to announce signing of Roger Huerta
by John Morgan and Steven Marrocco on Mar 14, 2010 at 9:00 am ET
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight Roger Huerta (20-3-1 MMA, 0-0 Bellator) is set to test his mettle in Bellator Fighting Championships' season two eight-man lightweight tournament.
Sources close to the situation confirmed to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) that the popular lightweight received his formal release from the UFC this week, which opened the door to finalize a deal with the upstart promotion.
Bellator has called a video press conference for Monday at 3 p.m. ET that will stream live at Bellator.com.
Huerta is the seventh 155-pound competitor added to Bellator’s second season, which kicks off April 8 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The twelve-week season airs live on FOX Sports Net affiliates on Thursday nights, and highlights packages air on NBC and Telemundo over the weekend. Tournament participants in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight classes battle for the right to face season one's tournament champions.
Huerta made headlines in January over a Twitter comment that hinted at negotiations and a possible signing with Strikeforce. Promotion officials later confirmed a meeting with the fighter but said it did not produce a fight contract.
Huerta shot to stardom in 2007 when he became the first mixed martial arts competitor to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.
He later drew controversy in the buildup to a career-making fight against Kenny Florian at UFC 87 when he told FIGHT! magazine he was unhappy with the terms of his UFC contract. He lost to Florian by unanimous decision and afterward told reporters he respected the UFC and was merely looking out for his financial health.
Four months later, he turned down a new five-fight contract with the UFC and announced his intention to start an acting career. Huerta appeared in the martial arts film "Tekken," and inked a three-film development deal with Lions Gate Films.
Huerta waited 13 months to fulfill the final fight on his UFC contract – leading many to speculate the promotion retaliated against him for the interview – and lost to Gray Maynard by decision at UFC Fight Night 19 this past September.
In his most recent silver screen role, Huerta appeared in "Circle of Pain," starring Dean Cain and UFC veterans Heath Herring and Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson.
Huerta's win over Clay Guida at "The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale" was a certain candidate for 2007 "Fight of the Year." After Guida nearly knocked him out in the second round, he staged a come-from-behind attack in the final frame and submitted the wild-haired fighter with a rear-naked choke.
Huerta made his UFC debut at UFC 63 and racked up six consecutive octagon wins before falling short to Florian.
Bellator's lucrative tournaments can earn each division's winner $100,000 over three fights and three months. Should Huerta made it through the promotion's eight-man tournament, he'll book a date with current Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.