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As His Future Remains Uncertain, Roger Huerta Looks to Mickey Rourke for Guidance

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During a post-fight interview following his loss to Kenny Florian at UFC 87, Roger Huerta commented on remarks he had previously made about his future in the UFC, “All I was saying is that as a business decision—and you can’t argue about this, it’s in all business—if a company offers you something better for you and your family, then you would do that, right? It’s the logical thing to do. And that’s all I was saying.” And now, without a contract with the UFC or any other fighting promotion, Huerta is again searching for what is best for both him as his family.

Roger Huerta’s story is one that has been well documented, and the adversities he has overcome in his life list like those from a Hollywood screenplay. His father, who was plagued by drug and alcohol abuse throughout his life, had a history of infidelity that eventually led to the separation of his family. Little support came from his mother following the divorce however; often physically abusive, Huerta was eventually removed from her custody at the age of seven. Following further tribulations with both parents over the next five years, including being tragically abandoned, Huerta eventually found himself living on the streets at the age of 12, surviving through gang life.

As City Pages’ Kevin Hoffman explains,

“His salvation was wrestling. Through wrestling he met the teacher who became his adoptive mother. She helped him find Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where he joined the wrestling team. A teammate introduced him to Mixed Martial Arts. MMA introduced him to the world.”

Now, no longer under contract as an MMA fighter, Huerta’s future is again in the air; though under far better circumstances than in the past.

The first MMA fighter to ever be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated (pictured above), Huerta’s final bout of his six fight deal with the UFC came with a split decision loss to Gray Maynard at UFC Fight Night 19 last month. Maynard, who was recently ranked third in the world in the lightweight division by Five Ounces of Pain, pushed Huerta to his limit, leaving Florian, Huerta’s previous opponent who was acting as a commentator for the fight, in awe. “I don’t know how Roger is not tapping on that. You can see his shoulder blade popping out of his back. This is the heart of Roger Huerta!” Earlier in the fight the UFC’s Mike Goldberg had alluded to the uncertainty that would follow the bout, and as Maynard’s hand was raised in victory, Huerta’s immediate future with the UFC looked increasingly unclear.

Now the free agent is looking to, of all places, a career in acting to help add a new sense of fulfillment to his life. Speaking to MMA Weekly in September, Huerta discussed his direction,

“I’ve just got to balance it out with my life, my social life,” said Huerta. “Balance it where I’m not fully just focused on one thing – I’m focused on fighting, and fighting is everything I do. I have to balance it out where fighting is my job, and outside of training, I get to hang out with my family and my loved ones, then the acting thing. Acting, that it’s just my job, and not making it where it’s all that I’m about.”

And at the request of the once-troubled Hollywood actor, and former boxer, Mickey Rourke, Huerta looks to have an opportunity to pursue that next stage of his life. Insisting that Huerta join him in New York, Rourke recently flew the fighter out to East Coast where they began working together. “Mickey took him under his wing,” noted Huerta’s manager Jeff Clark in a recent discussion with MMA Weekly.

And under Rourke’s guidance Huerta has now found a role in Ling Bai’s (Crank: High Voltage, Entourage) new movie Circle of Pain, which is set to being production later this month. The film comes as Huerta’s second role in a major motion picture, his first will reportedly see release in theaters next month as he’s featured as Miguel Caballero Rojo in the screen adaptation of the popular video game Tekken.

Despite Huerta’s new direction in life however, it would be surprising if the 26 year old failed to set foot in the octagon again. “After the Maynard fight, he realized how much he loves fighting, and he definitely wants to fight again,” Clark later commented. Prior to his consecutive losses, Huerta had been undefeated in his last 17 fights, with his final loss (which was subsequently the first loss of his career) coming in June of 2004 to Ryan Schultz.

At such a young age Huerta’s options are seemingly limitless. Given his ability to find success against odds that would likely crush most people, he deserves the opportunity to pursue every avenue available to him. And regardless of which of those directions he decides to focus on, Roger Huerta should be celebrated as a champion.

[This article first appeared on Examiner.]