The man charged with randomly assaulting and seriously injuring two El Paso grandparents at their home Saturday morning was a troubled Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, fighter.
According to Eric Smith, owner and master of Screaming Eagles Martial Arts, the cocky Huerta called him up to challenge him to a fight in early 2018. According to Smith, Huerta claimed he had beaten all the other masters in El Paso. Smith accepted his challenge and beat Huerta with one punch to his right bicep. Smith says Huerta's facial expression changed the moment his fist connected with Huerta's arm, prompting Smith to stop the fight.
"He threw a heavy right and I parried with a block and a massive punch to his bicep and when I hit him it froze his arm instantly," Smith said.
Huerta continued to be a student with Smith for a time, but Smith says Huerta was very aggressive and used profanity often, something he doesn't accept in his dojang, or martial arts gym.
But Smith wasn't the only one to have problems with Huerta. According to Cesar Castro, a MMA blogger, all of the MMA gyms in El Paso have a Huerta story. One of those gyms is Bushido MMA, owned by Hugo Sida.
"He came in to Bushido looking for, you know, he wanted to change his life," Sida said, "He wanted some kind of direction. He wanted to do some mma. So I took him in."
But Sida quickly noticed something was off.
"He wasn't training to to get better or to help people," he said. "He was training to, wanting to hurt somebody."
And the face you see in Huerta's mug shot, Sida says that's the face he would make when he wanted to hurt somebody.
"He would do that on the mat when we were sparring," he said. "I guess it's just a way of him trying to intimidate."
Both Smith and Sida said Huerta had issues.
"You could tell he had a lot of anger inside," Sida said. "You could tell he had a lot of anger."
"He's a slugger," Smith said. "He's a hard hitting guy and he had that rage for sure. But it takes a lot more than that."