Roger Huerta is no stranger to adversity.
He survived a tumultuous and traumatic upbringing which by rights should have seen him end up in jail or dead. Instead, he was able to turn it around and become a successful athlete who was at one stage one of the most recognizable fighters in all of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
He has starred in movies and high profile fights and holds the honor of being the first ever mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to appear on the front cover of Sports Illustrated, but much has changed since then. Huerta has a comfortable life but as a fighter, he is staring into the abyss after three consecutive losses.
Once again though, he has an opportunity to turn things around and this time it is his career, not his life, which he will be looking to get back on track with a win over Zorobabel Moreira at ONE Fighting Championship 4: "Destiny of Warriors."
With a three-fight contract with Asia's biggest MMA promotion signed and sealed, Huerta has been given a second chance and he intends to grasp it with both hands.
"This is do or die for me, I can't lose this fight and I am going to be fighting at 100 mph from the moment the fight starts to the final bell if I have to. Moreira is a very tough fighter, I've seen his fights and I know it won't be easy but I am going to take him into deep water."
Although both are naturally lightweights this fight has been set for 170 lbs because Huerta was already preparing to face Phil Baroni at welterweight when his unexpected loss to Chris Holland necessitated a change of plan. His long term future may be at 155 lbs but Huerta is happy to be fighting at his natural walk around weight for once.
"I don't have to cut much weight at all and it means that all my focus is in my opponent and the fight. I haven't been on the internet, I haven't been checking my Facebook or updating my twitter, I have just been 100% focused on this fight instead of worrying about my weight and the weight cut."
Moreira is one of the most talked about lightweight prospects in Asia at present and is undoubtedly an awkward opponent who has found a way to use his 6"3' frame to good effect. Huerta is accustomed to facing highly experienced fighters like Eddie Alvarez, Gray Maynard and Pat Curran but he says he is not taking the Brazilian lightly.
"I do not underestimate him at all and I believe he is on a similar level to all those guys. I saw his last fight with (Felipe) Enomoto and he used his reach really well and that is something I have been working on with Robert 'The Terminator' (Thanawet) a Muay Thai trainer at Tiger Muay Thai, finding ways to get inside. I want to go toe to toe with him and I expect to have to take a few shots to do it, I'm ready for that."
Huerta is based full time in Phuket and has been dividing his training time between Phuket Top Team and Tiger Muay Thai there. ONE FC has a focus on Asian and Asian based fighters and as probably the most prestigious free agent in the region he was an obvious addition to the roster and the American is looking forward to fighting in stadiums all across the continent.
"I am not looking past this fight but I signed a three fight deal and we have a really good relationship and hopefully it progresses. It all depends on how Saturday goes, if all goes well and there are no injuries I really want to get on the Manila card. It goes back to Mohammed Ali and the ‘Thriller in Manila’, that’s history and I want to make history for MMA, that’s what we are doing in Kuala Lumpur."
ONE FC's inaugural show in Malaysia has sold out the Stadium Negara with tickets no longer available online at the time of writing. After being formed just 12 months ago the promotion is already taking the continent by storm, there will be plenty of opportunities for Huerta in the lightweight division and he admits he has already been sizing up some potential opponents.
"There’s a lot of tough guys at 155 lbs, Ole Laursen, that guy comes to slug it out every time! A fight with him would be unreal. I watched his Muay Thai fights against Buakaw and Masato and his MMA fights and he has the same sort of style as me, if we fought it would be fireworks."
MMA fans from around the world can witness the action of ONE Fighting Championship: Destiny of Warriors online via live streaming on www.onefc.com. The first four under card fights are available for viewing free of charge. The remaining six main card fights are now available for purchase on Pay-Per-View at just US$9.99. Catch real time excitement of Asia’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) event as it all goes down on 23 June 2012 at the historic Stadium Negara in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.