Bellator’s second season gets underway tonight on Fox Sports Net in the US, and the star of the opening show is undoubtedly ex-UFC fighter Roger Huerta.
Some eye-brows were raised when the 20-3-1 (1nc) fighter agreed to join the up and coming promotion when more established organizations like Strikeforce and DREAM were also believed to be interested in signing him. Huerta’s manager, Jeff Clark admitted to SI.com’s Josh Gross that it wasn’t a decision they took lightly.
“Roger and I spoke about it a lot. I said he needs to understand that going with Bellator was more risk and more reward, by far. There was no other way to look at it.”
Clark went on to detail the risk involved for Huerta in more detail.
“We’re going into a tournament format. Roger has to prove himself every time. There could be that sleeper guy that jumps up. I know the fight world. When you have guys fighting a name, they throw it all on the line because they know they have a chance to make a name for themselves. Hell, yeah, it’s risky.”
What about the reward though? Thought Clark doesn’t go into specifics, he does admit that, “they gave him a lot of things that really made it enticing. I felt what they offered and what they came through with was fairly strong where it wouldn’t be matched.”
Rumors around the time of the signing suggest that Huerta was looking for a $250,000 signing bonus, a vast sum of money for an MMA fighter, and one that it appears even established promotions like Strikeforce were unwilling to pay.
In addition what we do know for certain is that if Huerta does go on to win Bellator’s lightweight tournament, then he wins the $100,000 prize. So in effect Huerta could potentially walk away in a few months time with $350,000 – good money if you can get it, especially in an organization that is still establishing itself.
Of course it shouldn’t be forgotten that Bellator themselves are taking a risk with this move. While Huerta does add star-power to the tournament he is not by himself a top draw, and if he crashes out in one of the early rounds then the promotion may end up regretting their decision.
The lightweight tournament is arguably the weakest in Bellator’s second season however, and if Huerta does win it then it opens up a mouth-watering fight between the fighter and season 1’s winner Eddie Alvarez, and that’s certainly a fight that should capture MMA fan’s imagination.