Roger Huerta file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Roger Huerta has had a rough couple of years.
After dropping back-to-back decisions and leaving the UFC, he was expected to win Bellator’s second season lightweight tournament and emerge as one of the young promotion’s stars. He suffered a stunning loss to Pat Curran, though, for his third defeat in his last four fights. It’s a streak he brought up himself Monday on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.”
“In those fights, I’ll tell you this: I wasn’t mentally strong,” Huerta said. “I wasn’t mentally there.”
The 27-year-old made a point to credit his opponents for beating him but also suggested his issues were bigger than MMA.
“I’ve been really in a slump where it’s been kind of up and down, up and down. Like where I’m at in life, what things mean to me in life,” Huerta said. “It’s been more than just competing and fighting, [but] I think I’m over that now.”
Now Huerta has a chance to leapfrog back into the mix. Curran went on to win the lightweight tournament in June, but an injury forced him out of the title shot he had earned against champion Eddie Alvarez. Instead, Huerta will fight Alvarez on Oct. 21 in Philadelphia. The title isn’t on the line, but it’s likely the biggest matchup Bellator could make regardless.
“It’s a dream come true for me, to be honest,” Huerta said. “Something that I was looking forward to when I signed on with Bellator. This is a guy who I’ve been eyeing, and all of a sudden here it is. It’s happening now and it’s going to be good.”
Alvarez is the No. 6-ranked lightweight in the world. He has beaten Tatsuya Kawajiri, Katsunori Kikuno and Joachim Hansen while compiling a 20-2 record. A win over a top-notch opponent like Alvarez could all but erase Huerta’s recent struggles.
“It does a lot of things,” Huerta said. “One fight, you’re back in it. It’s just how this thing goes. For me, I have to win.”
Huerta believes Alvarez will bring out the best in him. Both are known as entertaining fighters unafraid of a brawl.
“I’m going in there to finish him,” Huerta said. “I’m not going in there to play patty cake or to fight a technical fight. I’m coming in to fight. … I’m telling you this right now: I’m not holding anything back. From the moment they say go, we touch gloves -- it’s going to be on.”
Even with names like Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard on his resume, Huerta called the upcoming Alvarez bout the biggest obstacle of his career. He also sees the matchup as a critical opportunity -- maybe his last in MMA.
“I feel like if Eddie wins, he ends up killing my career,” Huerta said. “I can’t take another loss. This is really personal for me. This is my life.”
Check out the full interview (beginning at 30:15) with Huerta, who also discusses the Austin streetfight in which he fought a man who had struck a woman.