Arona makes return, Huerta goes AWOL, Buentello finds new home
Friday marks the start of, what should be, an interesting weekend in MMA. There aren't any major titles on the line, no elite fighters competing. But veterans, prospects and guys just trying to make a buck are lining up to fight across every region of the U.S. Throw in a handful of cards in South America, including Brazil's most ambitious in years, as well as the usual fare in Japan, and there appears to be a little something for everybody.
In Rio de Janeiro,
Arona (13-5), a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt favoring controlling and ground-and-pound, was certainly among that group. Yet, five fights with the Pride organization in 2005 took their toll. A bad loss against
Arona's return -- the first time he's competing in a cage -- against American veteran
The embattled UFC lightweight, who has refused to sign a contract extension with Zuffa and is eyeing opportunities in acting and modeling, asked his management to put a moratorium on media appearances. He might do a few things in the days leading up to the fight, but Huerta's representative
The loss -- Huerta's first in the UFC -- forced him to rethink how he prepared for fights. For most mixed martial artists, that implies changing things up, getting out of the norm. Huerta, however, was already doing that, and instead he focused on a return to his roots: spending this training camp in Minneapolis, Minn., with his longtime trainer and former UFC middleweight champion
The 26-year-old Huerta has only been out of the gym for a day, for a voiceover gig for the movie
When Affliction folded, the UFC purchased the rights to several contracts, and Buentello's was among them. However, the heavyweight's deal included a provision allowing Strikeforce the right to promote him. Buentello and Strikeforce went back and forth during contract negotiations, and after much deliberation, the fighter concluded his best chance for security and prosperity would be with the UFC.
Buentello's decision is easy to understand. Strikeforce appears to be a good fight promotion company with quality backing, but for guys like Buentello, who have signed up for fights only to have the rug pulled out from under them at the most inopportune moments, the UFC provides an opportunity too secure to turn down.
It didn't help that Buentello was being represented in contract negotiations by
During talks with Strikeforce for a new contract, Buentello confirmed he was offered a chance to fight
Buentello declined to comment on whether Cook's actions as an intermediary between the fighter and the promoter put him at a disadvantage. In the end, the "Headhunter" took matters into his own hands to secure his professional freedom. After
Specifics of a new contract with the UFC need ironing out, but Buentello (27-10) remains confident it will get done soon. Most importantly for the 34-year-old, he can finally look forward to the days when all he has to worry about is fighting again.
• Long considered "Arona-lite," former WEC middleweight champion
Herman was developed by ProElite, but like many fighters he was forced to the sidelines when the company folded. His potential is still there. He needs to put away