With his gritty win over Chad Hinton at Bellator XIII last night, Roger Huerta has set in motion a chain of events that should end with him fighting lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez next fall.
Huerta not only seemed to lose nothing from his time in the UFC, but he looked every bit as good as fans could expect, squaring off against a very game opponent in Chad Hinton.
The first round saw Huerta take advantage of the standup game, hurting Hinton with two stiff right hands. Hinton, however, regained enough composure to take Huerta down twice in the round. Yet, it was Huerta who ended the first round with a barrage of ground-and-pound on top of Hinton.
"This guy wasn't going to give up. He's really tough," said Huerta.
Huerta opened up the second unlike the first, deciding to take Hinton to the ground. The round was dominated by Huerta, with lots of vicious shots being taken by Hinton. The frame ended with Huerta transitioning to full mount with very little time left in the round. It was just a matter of time.
Huerta quickly ended the bout just 56 seconds into the third round with an un-Huerta-like kneebar that forced Hinton to submit. While the submission was atypical of Huerta, the way in which Huerta performed the submission was what fight fans have come to expect of the 27-year-old Mexican phenom.
"The leg was there," said Huerta of his submission victory. "I had to take the leg."
Though he ultimately lost the bout, Hinton has nothing to be ashamed of. He took the fight to Huerta, taking him down multiple times in the first round alone. Huerta commented on Hinton's ability after the fight.
"Oh my God, so strong. It's amazing. It just goes to show that age doesn't matter."
With the win, Huerta now moves on to the semifinals where his opponent has yet to be determined. Also moving on in the lightweight bracket tonight was Carey Vanier with his third-round TKO win over late replacement Joe Duarte Thursday night. It would be interesting to see if Bellator matches Vanier up against Huerta for the next round pairings, though Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney would be wise to let the other four participants slug it out first.
Did tonight change the minds at all of fight fans to sway them from the belief that Huerta is going to be the one to fight Alvarez? If so, Huerta will look to impress yet again in his next fight against one of the five remaining competitors.