The Bellator Fighting Championships may be relatively new to the fight game, but they are certainly making their impression felt as they prepare to head into their second season.
Having signed new television deals with Fox Sports Net (live events), NBC (1/2 hr highlights package) and Telemundo (1 hr highlight show), and brought in some of the finest up and coming talent around for their tournament based set-up they had already marked themselves out as one’s to watch in the forthcoming months.
Today however they went a step further by announcing a high-profile signing, former UFC lightweight fighter Roger Huerta.
Huerta will fight in Bellator’s lightweight tournament, and if he goes on to win it he will face last year’s champion Eddie Alvarez in what would certainly be an intriguing encounter.
He is expected to have his first fight in the opening round of the eight-man tournament on April 8th, though his opponent is still to be announced.
After six straight victories in the UFC, and having appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, Huerta was well on his way to becoming a star in the sport before losing to Kenny Florian at UFC 87 in 2008.
Later he turned down a new long-term deal with the company in order to pursue an acting career. He featured in the movie version of the Tekken video game franchise, but it proved not to be as successful he had hoped.
In September of ’09 he returned to the UFC for the final fight on his contract, and lost out to Gray Maynard by split-decision.
Despite the back-to-back defeats Huerta (21-3-1 1nc) is still a talented fighter, and with his acting ambitions apparently on-hold for the time being he is a quality addition to the Bellator roster.
He had apparently also been speaking to Strikeforce in recent weeks, and if he hadn’t fallen out of favor with the UFC due to his desire to become an actor it is likely that they too would still have been happy to keep him on the roster, making this somewhat of a coup for Bellator.
Bellator also recently announced another former UFC fighter Josh Neer will compete for the promotion in a ‘super fight’ with Eddie Alvarez. The bout is believed to be taking place in May at a catch-weight of 160lbs.