UFC lightweight fighter Roger Huerta makes his return to the Octagon on Wednesday night as he takes on Gray Maynard at UFC Fight Night 19.
Huerta, 26, was last seen dropping a decision to Kenny Florian at UFC 87: Seek and Destroy last August. Since then Huerta (22-2-1) has reportedly been working on an acting career while healing a beat-up, worn down body. He also recently turned down a five fight contract extension in January from the UFC.
On Wednesday, September 16th, Huerta makes his return to fulfill the last fight on his UFC contract but the question that man analysts and fans alike have on their minds is where is his head at entering a such a big fight?
It would be easy to believe -- if not understand -- that Huerta wouldn't be devoting too much of his time and energy to a final fight, essentially a "lameduck" fight if you will. Without any guarantee that he will return to the UFC, let alone if he even wants to continue his fighting career, there's essentially no reason for him to want to do well except personal pride. A win doesn't position him better for a title shot nor will it put him in better standing to get an improved contract from Dana White and the UFC brass.
So unless Huerta has thoughts about continuing a fighting career that was once so promising, could we possibly be watching a fight on Wednesday that is, for all tense and purposes, already over?
If so, Huerta isn't acting like it. From Sherdog:
“I had an amazing camp. 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. 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. 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. To be a person like myself who leaves everything out in the Octagon, the time off was good. 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.”
So if we are to believe Huerta, that he has been training hard and focusing all of his energy on beating a very tough lightweight fighter in Maynard (7-0), then we should be in for a treat tomorrow night on Spike.
Here's what I think is the deal in this unique situation. I think Huerta is a true professional and sees this final fight as an opportunity to prove his worth not only to himself and all of his camp that devotes so much of their time to helping him, but as well as to his fans and the UFC.
I also think Huerta is a true competitor who wants to beat Maynard just because he whole-heartedly believes he can. I think he wants to give it 110% in that cage because every fighter this side of Kalib Starnes doesn't know how to give anything less. And finally, I also think that deep down Huerta knows he's a fighter and will in a few short years be right back to the profession that gave him the opportunity to branch out in his career.
Tomorrow night, turn on Spike to watch Roger Huerta in his farewell fight, that is until he returns from his hiatus.