Huerta said he’s found the will to fight again.
Huerta, who passed on a five-fight renewal contract with the UFC
last January to pursue a second career in acting, said his
split-decision loss to Gray
Maynard last Wednesday has re-ignited his competitive fire.
“I think it could have gone either way and it’s my fault I let it
go to the judges and I can’t go out like that,” Huerta told
Sherdog.com Sunday. “I can’t go out with two losses in a row. I
don’t think I’m going to call it quits anytime soon.”
The popular bilingual fighter was heavily promoted by the UFC in
2007 and 2008, especially after he became the first mixed martial
artist to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated following
his dynamo performance against Leonard
Garcia at UFC 69.
However, the 26-year-old lightweight opted not to re-sign with the
promotion earlier this year in favor of acting opportunities, he
said. Huerta completed the last fight on his existing contract at
UFC Fight Night 19 on Sept. 16.
In recent months, fighters like Randy
Couture, Cung Le, and
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson have all juggled movie roles and their
fighting careers with mixed results.
Though some might consider Huerta’s acting proclamations as a way
for him to not re-sign and become a free agent, Huerta said he was
“dead-set” on leaving fighting behind until he entered the cage
“I’m still open to acting,” said Huerta. “Hopefully we get
something going with that, but I’m not going to prioritize (acting)
now. I’ll still prioritize fighting. If the UFC wants me back, I’d
be willing to go back.”
A return to the UFC is not impossible.
One common component of UFC contracts is a 60-day exclusive
renegotiation period following a fighter’s last bout. If a new
agreement is not reached within that time, the fighter can begin
negotiations with other organizations. However, the UFC has the
option to review and match any offer made by a rival outlet,
sometimes for up to a year after the fighter’s contract
“We haven’t spoken to the UFC since last Wednesday, but we’d
definitely keep that option open,” said Huerta’s manager Jeff Clark,
of North County Fight Management.
Huerta said he hasn’t taken the opportunity to consider other
promotions, such as Strikeforce, just yet.
“I’ve been with the UFC since 2006. They’re all that I know, but
it’s up to my manager Jeff Clark to decide that for me,” said
Huerta’s love affair with acting began in the summer of 2008, when
he landed the role of Miguel “The Matador” Rojo in the feature film
adaptation of the popular video game “Tekken,” due out in theatres
sometime this fall.
In January, Huerta announced he’d signed a three-picture
development deal with Lion’s Gate Films, whose latest titles have
included “Gamer” starring
Gerard Butler and “Saw VI.”
However, Huerta’s transition has been like much of the rest of the
film business crippled by last year’s writers’ union strike --
“We started looking at the things we were going to do with Lion’s
Gate,” said Huerta. “We’ve looked over some roles, but nothing that
I’ve wanted to sink my teeth into (yet).”
In July, when he received the call from the UFC to face Maynard in
September, Huerta said he dropped all other pursuits to focus on
the bout. Huerta was pleased with the results.
“I think this last fight was probably the best fight I’ve ever had,
the most focused I’ve ever been,” he said. “I fought a very
dangerous opponent, who is probably going to be the next number-one
contender. I lost to the number-one contender before that as well.
I’m right in that mix, where a little tweak here and there (in
training) and I’m right in there.”
Huerta, who relocated to Texas earlier this year, said the 13
months away from competition also gave him new perspective.
“I went back to (trainer) Dave (Menne in Minnesota) and really just
started paying attention to him finally after all these years,”
said Huerta. “I’ve really gotten into being good to my body as
well, understanding that I only have one body. Your body’s like a
vehicle, depreciating every year and if you treat it well, you slow
down the process.”
Lauded for his passion in the cage, Huerta said it took only the
opportunity to tap into it again to know he wanted to keep
“I didn’t know how crucial that Kimura was until I saw the video,”
said Huerta. “I was going to let him break it. I really was. That’s
the competitive blood in me. I’ve never given up on anything, and I
guess that’s back in me now.”