Monday, March 19, 2007

Huerta brings confidence and faith into UFC 69

By Roberto Cepeda

Roger Huerta will match up with Leonard Garcia on April 7th in Houston at UFC 69. These two fighters match up well on paper: Roger at 5’9” and 155 and Leonard at 5’10” 155lbs. The difference at least in Roger’s mind is his approach to a fight and his driving force in life.

Roger’s style is to come at his opponent with what the Armed Services call “violence of action”, come in fast, come in hard and use overwhelming force. His nick-name is El Matador for his systematic and methodical approach to taking out his opponents. He is apparently good at this since he is 18-1-1 in his professional MMA career.

He lost early in his career to Ryan Schultz in an eight man tournament, when he was kneed in the jaw and suffered a dislocated jaw and he couldn’t answer the bell. Roger is a relative newcomer to the dangerous world of MMA, his career initiated in 2003 after wresting at Augsburg College for only one year. His love for MMA led him to dedicate himself full-time to training and opted out of collegiate wrestling. He is presently only two credits from graduating with a Business Management degree.

Roger is certainly a man who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. When I spoke with him recently he said, “I feel sorry for Leonard, I’m going to knock him out.” Roger continued explaining how he couldn’t wait to take him apart and finally admitted, “I don’t feel sorry for him, he’s my opponent.”

This served to enlighten me on his psyche, no fear, no hesitation, like a thoroughbred biting at the bit, prancing and ready to go all out. This ex-title holder from the IFC is already planning to be the UFC champion in two years. He has his plan, he is working hard and seems to enjoy the combat. So how did he get to this level? What is his driving force?

Roger was born in Los Angeles, Ca. but grew up in Texas. He spent some time in Mexico and El Salvador when he was suddenly deposited there by his parents. They were experiencing personal and marital problems. In fact Roger hasn’t seen his mother since he was eight years old and hasn’t seen his father since he was fourteen. Roger remembers being beaten physically by his mother as well as being verbally abused. He mentioned having to spend all his time indoors while in El Salavador because of the civil war that was causing havoc and taking lives.

And just as suddenly Roger was back in Texas after his father came for him. His experience back in the U.S. wasn’t much better. He found himself in a drug house, living with a gang. He was abandoned again but this young man found a refuge in school.

“They had free breakfasts and lunches for low-income students, but I really enjoyed going, I felt good there.” He mentioned that he found good teachers there. He was soon in a foster home, where he stayed until he was eighteen. At school he started wrestling and excelled in that sport due in part to his work ethic and indomitable spirit.

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