Herrera (9-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC) dropped a decision to Nguyen and was cut from the UFC. But what could have been a tough blow ended up being just what Herrera needed to recuperate the joy he used to get from training. And, after “getting his life together,” Herrera is now itching to return to the cages.
“If the opportunity came up, and I got that call, I would jump on it right away,” Herrera recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “I feel like this time off has been good. It’s been crucial, and much-needed, to be quite honest. And I’m just ready to continue where I left off.”
Amid the personal turmoil, Herrera had to turn down an offer by Russian promotion ABC. But he is now in a good place. He’s got a good, decent-paying job. He’s not only been able to put his son in a new school, but has also been helping him perform well at it.
And the difficult times, he says, are now motivation fuel.
“(ABC) are really cool – they were going to take care of me,” Herrera said. “But it was just – it wasn’t in me. I felt like I really just needed to get my life in order. Fnally, now I think I’ve got the ball rolling in my life. Now I’ve been training. I’m ready to go out there and start fighting at a high level.
“I’m ready for that next step. I feel I’ve grown so much because of having to go through all of this. And I’m not living out of my car anymore. That’s a blow to the ego, like I can’t explain it.”
Herrera, who was undefeated before joining the UFC in 2015, is now officially back in business and open to offers from promotions. But there is one stage in particular that he’s got his sights on.
“For a while, I’ve looked at Bellator,” Herrera said. “Since before I was even in the UFC. But they didn’t have a 125 division. But I’ve had a couple of buddies of mine who fought for them. And it’s a really good promotion. From what I hear, they take really good care of their fighters.
“Nothing against the UFC, but I hear that Bellator really just shows a lot of appreciation for the people who are in it. And the fighters who are out there performing.”
Herrera is more than open to jumping up to 135 pounds if that opportunity presents itself. But one thing he won’t do to get his foot into a big promotion again? Fill in as a last-minute replacement.
“I couldn’t do that,” Herrera said. “I felt like the UFC taught me that sometimes you have to be smart with the way you pick your fights. And the big fights will come. If you plan on doing this the long run, those fights will come eventually. It’s just a matter of how you go in them. Short-notice doesn’t really allow me to give the performance that I know I can give.”
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