Huerta: 'One or the Other' on Fighting, Acting

By Lutfi Sariahmed Sep 15, 2009
Fighters getting in touch with their inner thespian is hardly a new idea. Randy Couture starred as the Scorpion King, Cung Le's been in a number of films during his reign as Strikeforce middleweight champ and Gina Carano's set for a lead role in the latest Steven Soderbergh production. But unlike the aforementioned, Roger Huerta said he is leaving mixed martial arts all together to delve into acting at 26 years old. In what could be his final performance in the UFC's Octagon, for a while at least, Huerta faces Gray Maynard in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 19 this Wednesday –- the last fight on his contract with the promotion.

Huerta turned down a new five-fight contract with the UFC in January, citing a three-movie development deal signing with Lion’s Gate films, the studio behind films like “The Transporter 3” and “The Spirit.” Huerta fought only once in 2008 (a loss to Kenny Florian at UFC 87), which happened amidst a small speaking role in the film “Tekken” and personal family issues. Maynard will mark his first fight for 2009.

“What I meant by last fight wasn't like last fight, it's more of having my last fight, yes, for now,” Huerta told the Sherdog Radio Network's “Beatdown” show on Monday. “The opportunity I'm being approached with in another industry is pretty awesome. Who's 26 years old and has done a movie? That kind of thing. Never in my life did I think I'd be in the place that I am right now and because of fighting I'm able to have those opportunities. Not taking them would be pretty foolish. The thing about it is I can't fight forever and so being healthy and having the opportunity is something that I'm grateful for.”

Regardless of the opportunities that lie on the horizon, Huerta has focused solely on his bout against the Xtreme Couture lightweight. Huerta sequestered himself from the world in Minnesota to train with former UFC middleweight champion Dave Menne.

“I had an amazing camp,” said Huerta. “I isolated myself from the world from TV, Internet, you name it. I'm back up to Minnesota training with my mentor Dave Menne. He just brought in phenomenal athletes to help me prepare for a great opponent like Gray because Gray has phenomenal wrestling, but not only that, he has evolved so well in the sport. His striking looked great against Jim Miller. Obviously his wrestling is spectacular.”

Seclusion and focus were necessary for an opponent like Maynard, said Huerta.

“Gray deserves that attention. He deserves all of my attention and that's all I set my mind on, is Gray Maynard, putting myself in situations mentally where I know how to scramble out, how to get in top position, or if he throws a right cross or a jab and how to counter,” said Huerta. “How to move. How to cut angles. The guys have put me in all different situations where we pretty much prepared in every way for Gray.”

Huerta’s hiatus has also been beneficial for his body.

“To be a person like myself who leaves everything out in the Octagon, the time off was good,” he said. “I was able to heal some old injuries so I'm able to perform the way I've always performed, which is leaving everything in there. With that said, I don't think I'll have any cage rust or ring rust.”

Even with an inspiring performance possible Wednesday, Huerta said he is hesitant to split his time between his two passions.

“There's so much that goes behind these movies that I respect these guys so much now,” said Huerta. “Believe me, its either one or the other, I think that as of right now, if I want to do this movie thing I have to devote the energy (to acting) that I've put in to MMA.

“Let’s say I were to give the entertainment world, 50% of my attention and then the other 50% goes to MMA training and I face an opponent like Gray Maynard, and I get my head knocked off. I'd be endangering myself doing that.”
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