"Serra Ready for Grudge Fight Against Hughes" Article/Interview on Fight Network
Serra Ready for Grudge Fight Against Hughes
One win, one loss and just 13 minutes 10 seconds spent fighting in the cage. That's the sum total of Matt (The Terror) Serra's activity since the start of 2007.
Of course, both bouts were for the world title.
The dumpling-shaped welterweight knocked out Canadian Georges St. Pierre in a stunning upset to win the 170-pound championship at UFC 69 in April 2007. A year later, St. Pierre took his revenge -- and his title back -- by having his way with Serra en route to a lopsided second-round TKO at UFC 83 in Montreal.
Serra, 34, returns to action at UFC 98 on May 23 when he takes on 35-year-old Matt Hughes in a grudge match of former welterweight champions. The fight has long been on the cards but was delayed for a variety of reasons including injuries to both fighters.
"I'm always keeping busy, but yeah I would have liked to be a little more active for the last two years," Serra said in an interview. "It's just the way things worked out. But that doesn't matter, it's all in the past. I've been training hard. I'm in the best shape I've been for a long time and I'm just really looking forward to this fight.
"It's exciting, I can't wait."
Part of the reason for that is there's no love lost between the two Matts, who were rival coaches on Season 6 of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality TV show.
"For some reason, he did not like me on that show and from what he said about me is why I didn't like him," Hughes explained in a fan question-and-answer session before UFC 96 in March in Columbus, Ohio. "But he kind of started out with the anger, it wasn't me."
Serra, for his part, says the two used to get along. But the worm turned when he was watching Hughes' first go-round as coach on Season 2 of the TUF show.
"I used to consider him a decent acquaintance . . . I used to see him (at fights) and have decent conversations with the guy and think he was a nice guy," he explained. "But then you know like anything else, some guys get success and some guys let it get to them and some guys don't. I just think he just got more stuck up, started thinking his poo didn't stink. He irks me, man, he just became real smug.
"When I was watching Season 2, I'm like 'Oh man, what's this? Is Matt playing for the cameras ...?' No he's not. Either he was a jerk or he turned into one. I don't know."
The animosity has grown. Even Hughes' wife Audra is involved now.
"Of course I've learned from his one-hit wonder on GSP that he's a big slugger," Hughes said of Serra. "But I think it will go my way and my wife tells me that I will go all three rounds and he will be a bloody mess when I get done."
Serra says it's usually all business when he fights, but Hughes adds a whole new dimension.
"It always sucks when you lose, but if I lose to Matt Hughes I'll want to kill myself. . . . It's a sport but it's a contact sport so if I've got the choice between hitting somebody like Chris Lytle, who's an awesome dude, or punching someone in the face like Matt Hughes -- aiming right for that cleft in his chin -- that's the guy I want to hit because I can't stand that guy."
Hughes has fought three times since losing his title to St. Pierre at UFC 68 in November 2006, going 1-2 during 30 minutes 56 seconds of action.
Serra and Hughes were supposed to meet at UFC 79 in December 2007 but Serra was sidelined with a back injury.
"That was a pain for a bit, man. It was bothering me for a while," said the five-foot-six Serra. "Then I got a little chubby and that didn't help. Then once I lost the weight, it felt better. Hey it's hard man, you're Italian, you're injured and your wife's pregnant, that's not a good recipe (for fitness)."
St. Pierre stepped in and defeated Hughes at UFC 79, setting up the title rematch with Serra in April 2008.
Hughes, a future Hall of Famer in the twilight of his career, went on to fight Thiago Alves at UFC 85 last June, losing by second-round TKO and hurting his knee in the process. He says he was offered the chance to meet Serra in Montreal at UFC 97 last month but turned it down.
"I've never declined a fight before and I said 'You know what I'm not fighting Matt Serra up in Canada. There's just no reason for me to do that.' I said put me in the Midwest or put me in Vegas, one of the two. And they scheduled it for Vegas."
The bad blood between the two Matts adds zest to a fight between two veterans who have lost more than they have won recently. Hughes (43-7) has been beaten in three of his last four outings while Serra (16-5) has lost two of his last four.
St. Pierre, mind you, inflicted three of those five losses.
Both Matts say they are healthy and looking to settle a score. But neither is willing to look past this fight.
"I'm not making any decisions right now," said Hughes. "What I'm going to do is read my body after that fight and I'll make the decision. This is the last fight on my UFC contract, but that doesn't really mean anything because the UFC knows that I won't go anywhere else and fight. We're going to take some time on that one and I'll tell you after the fight."
Said Serra: "I'd like to, yeah man. But again I really think it's awful luck to look past any fight. Right now I'm just putting everything into this fight. ... We'll take it from there, let's see how it goes."
Still he sees this one as three-month-old daughter Angelina's college fund.
Points of interest, lulz, or good quotes highlighted in bold by myself