Lightweight Roger Huerta is in Austin, Tex., spending time with his family and healing up from his fight with Gray Maynard at UFC Fight Night 19. MMAWeekly caught up with him recently to discuss his future plans.
MMAWeekly: Were you happy with the fight last week?
Huerta: I was really happy with my performance. I think Iíve improved a lot, dramatically, where I donít fight too wild. I was really focused on Gray and what he does good, which is obviously his wrestling and his striking. I felt that the fight could have gone the either way, but then again, itís my fault for not finishing when I had chances and letting it go that far.
MMAWeekly: Was the fight in any way different than what you expected?
Huerta: Not at all. I expected Gray to be really tough. Heís one of the best out there right now. Heís going to continue to do well. The guyís a gym rat, heís at Xtreme Couture 24/7.
When the fight was proposed to me, I was like Ďhell, yeah.í This guyís one of the best out there. I said to myself, Iím going to focus on training, and I ended up going to Minnesota and preparing with Dave Menne, who Iíve been with since the beginning, and he helped me prepare for Gray, and brought in other high caliber athletes to help me prepare for Gray.
MMAWeekly: A couple of sources I spoke to said the UFC was trying to send a message by matching you up with Gray. Were you aware of that at leading up to this fight?
Huerta: Not at all. I saw Gray as a big opportunity of getting back in that top five contention.
MMAWeekly: When you were leading up to the fight, did you already have it in the back of your mind that you might fight again, were you sitting on the fence, or were you resolved not to do it?
Huerta: Going into this fight, I was going in there thinking, this is my last fight, that I was going to give it my best, and I was going to go out with a bang, and pursue other things in my life. After the fight, I was not pleased with the results, meaning, I wasnít pleased with the decision that was made that I had lost. I wasnít pleased with 30-27, which I just donít see that happening at all. It was going to go 29-28 for him or for me. Thatís given me a bitter taste, in that thereís no way that he won all three rounds, or that he just ran through me and did whatever he wanted to me. Thatís not what happened. I feel that heís probably going to be the next number one contender, and the last two guys that Iíve lost to have been the number one contenders, like Kenny (Florian). He beat me decisively; I wasnít really focused for Kenny. But Gray, I just canít really swallow that.
MMAWeekly: So is it purely the dissatisfaction about the Gray fight that made you decide to fight again or were there any other factors involved?
Huerta: No, it was really this fight. This fight has given me hunger for fighting again. I had kind of lost that. I was getting burnt out with it. After this fight, I was like, man, we were so close, and being with Dave, and seeing how much attention we put to this, and how close we were to getting this victory, is really whatís given me back this fighting fire again.
MMAWeekly: Why do you think you got burnt out?
Huerta: I think a lot of it was the PR
that I was doing. All the press stuff, just getting distracted. Fighting has gotten me where I am today.
MMAWeekly: At what point did acting become the escape from fighting?
Huerta: It became it when I filmed Tekken. When I started doing that, I couldnít really commit to that, but I was really intrigued by it. I thought it was just something awesome in these actors. I gotta respect these guys, they work hard at what they do: twelve-hour days on the set, on-and-off, memorizing lines, becoming these roles. Itís something Iím still intrigued by, and something I still want to pursue. If there are any awesome opportunities, believe me, Iím still going to do it.
MMAWeekly: How was it being an actor for the time you were away from fighting? I know you had that three-picture development deal with Lionís Gate. How was it?
Huerta: Well, it was a lot of hard work, and for someone like me that never experienced that, I was like, oh my God. Thereís so much that goes on behind the scenes of doing these films. I was like if I really want to do this, if I want to get serious with this, I have to work hard at it. Even after the Gray fight, I called the agent, Greg Edwards, from LA, who got me in that movie. I was like, Ďhey man, I want to go at this really hard,í because heís an acting coach as well. But heís out in LA and Iím here in Austin. He was like,í what kind of computer do you have?í And I was like Mac, and heís like, Ďget into tune with iMovie, get Skype, so that I can coach you while Iím over here and youíre in Austin.í Itís awesome, man. Itís a big challenge.
MMAWeekly: So youíre working on monologues, and audition scenes, and the standard fare of actors via Skype in Austin?
Huerta: Iím going to start doing that right now.
MMAWeekly: How do you plan on fitting acting in with your fighting life?
Huerta: There are certain days where Iíll have my classes, and Iím not going to be doing it every day. Iím scheduling class with Greg once a week. Then Iím training every day. Trainingís just a part of my life, working out is a part of life. I donít do much else.
MMAWeekly: Where do you stand with the UFC?
Huerta: My relationship with the UFC, I think is fairly well. I havenít really spoken with them. Jeff (Clark, my manager) has.
MMAWeekly: So you donít know whether the door is open or closed with them?
Huerta: Yeah, Iím really clueless to that question.
MMAWeekly: If the door is closed, theoretically, would you be open to other promotions like DREAM and Strikeforce?
Huerta: Definitely. Iím open to anything right now.
MMAWeekly: Iím wondering if catching this acting bug and going into the Gray fight with these raised stakes taught you anything about redefining your relationship to fighting?
Huerta: Yeah. Iíve just got to balance it out with my life, my social life. Balance it where Iím not fully just focused on one thingóIím focused on fighting, and fighting is everything I do. I have to balance it out where fighting is my job, and outside of training, I get to hang out with my family and my loved ones, then the acting thing. Acting, that itís just my job, and not making it where itís all that Iím about.
MMAWeekly: What kind of actor would you like to be? Dramatic? Comedic? Action?
Huerta: Iím open to all that. Iíve been watching a lot of Quinton Tarantino movies, and those have been great. Robert Rodriguez is really, really awesome.
MMAWeekly: And Robert Rodriguez is a Texan.
Huerta: Yes, he is. Please put that out there: Robert, hook me up.
MMAWeekly: So what are your immediate plans? Are you going to go into maintenance training, take some time off?
Huerta: My elbow and my shoulder are still a bit sore from the event, but I think within the next two weeks, that it should be better. I want to start working on my skills again, and I think I might even go to Thailand for three weeks and work on my Thai boxing.
MMAWeekly: Did you go see a doctor after Gray? Gray said he heard your shoulder pop.
Huerta: Yeah, the doctor saw me after the fight, and I went up to Minnesota and they checked me out as well. Dude, thereís nothing wrong me at all. If he thinks he heard something pop, he must have been hearing something else, because it wasnít me.
MMAWeekly: Youíre like the Bionic Man. That looked very painful.
Huerta: Itís funny you say that, because I didnít know what the big deal was. When I went back into the locker rooms, the doctors and nurses all came over and were like, Ďhowís your shoulder, howís your shoulder?í Iím like, Ďwhat are you talking about?í Itís fine. Three days later, I was watching the fight, and I saw that, and I was like, Ďholy crapÖyeah.í I went to Minnesota, to my sports medicine trainer, and I walk in, and everyone in the room looks at me. Theyíre wondering, Ďwhereís the sling?í I guess it was like an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing, because it looked worse than it felt. To me it felt like more of a stretch than painful. At the end it was a little bit painful, and I thought, ĎIíve got to get out of this.í I canít explain it. I think God must have been looking out for me.