CHICAGO - Former UFC lightweight star Roger (El Matador) Huerta has signed with Bellator Fighting Championships and will compete in the promotion's upcoming lightweight tournament.
For a time, the 26-year-old was one of the UFC's golden boys. A talented mixed martial arts fighter, Huerta was blessed with Hollywood good looks and a back story to match, having grown up in the streets after a troubled family life.
Huerta (20-3-1) won his first six fights in the UFC before losing to Kenny Florian at UFC 87 in September 2008. His relationship with the UFC seemed to sour after that, with Huerta looking to a movie career.
He did not fight for another 13 months, eventually finishing out his contract with a loss to the hard-nosed Gray Maynard last September.
Season 2 of the Bellator tournament runs April through June with the winner taking on Bellator world champion Eddie Alvarez in the fall.
Huerta joins a Bellator tournament field that includes Canadian Mike Ricci, Season 1 runner-up Toby Imada, Ferrid Kheder, undefeated Janne Tulirinta and Chad Hinton and former all-American wrestler Carey Vanier.
Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney called Huerta "one of the most exciting and accomplished lightweights in the world." "Roger is truly a young man who has defied the odds to achieve greatness," Rebney said in a statement Monday.
"His personal story is inspirational," Rebney added. "He has not had an easy road, but has fought hard and persevered. It's hard not to root for a guy who has triumphed over adversity like he has."