Morning Report: Health complications lead former UFC champ Matt Serra to 'walk away' from MMA

Matt Serra punches Chris Lytle in the face at UFC 119, his final Octagon appearance. - Al Bello

Matt Serra always thought he'd come back, if only for one last adrenaline rush, one last moment of glory. But now, at the age of 38, health complications have caused the owner of the greatest upset in UFC history to call it quits.

"It's hard to say it," Serra told Newsday. "It's like you can't say it, even though it probably is true. I would love to put closure on my career with one last fight at the Garden, but at the same time, if that doesn't happen, I definitely consider myself done. It's hard to say the 'R word.' I might never say the 'R word.'

"I really think I'm walking away. I'm going to be 39, I just had my rib taken out. I'm having my third kid. My schools are doing well. What am I doing, looking for another pay day? It's not really for that. I mean, it doesn't stink, but it's not really for that. Am I still trying to hold on for the glory? Glory is a drug, dude. I'm telling you, that's the problem. It really is. I know why guys can't walk away. I absolutely get it."

The rib Serra is referring to is the first rib on his left side, which doctors removed last month after two blood clots in Serra's arm and another in his lungs nearly killed him, if not for a lucky 2 a.m. hospital visit.

"I got freaked out," said Serra. "You don't catch that [and] after the lung, that stops your heart or your brain. Then you're done. I'm very fortunate to, basically, be here. Sounds kind of morbid. If I didn't catch that -- I was about to go to bed. I'm like, man, something's not feeling right."

Serra must now inject the anticoagulant Lovenox into his stomach every day to curb the damage, and he'll continue doing so for the next three months. The surgery to remove his rib, however, was a bit more gruesome.

"They had to cut me open through my armpit and cut through whatever they had to cut through and get my rib out," said Serra. "It's definitely strange and I'm feeling it in there."

Serra retires with a mixed martial arts record of 17-7. He racked up a 7-7 record in the UFC, culminating in a stunning first-round TKO victory over Georges St-Pierre to seize the UFC welterweight strap, after earning an automatic title shot via TUF 4, The Ultimate Fighter's lone comeback season.

"I know I can be beat by some of these guys, but I know I can still knock some of these guys out and be a threat on the ground," Serra said. "But at the same time, it used to be that the thing that made me happiest was the next fight. Now, I whistle to work going to my schools. I love hanging out with my kids, my family. That's something you never really anticipate or understand it until you have a family.

"An aging fighter?" finished Serra. "You know, it's like an aging stripper, but not as funny. Not a lot of people want to see that."

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HARSH WORDS FOR PATINO

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Wednesday, May 22, 2013):

  • UFC on FOX Sports 1: Alistair Overeem (36-12) vs. Travis Browne (14-1-1)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day sees Florence Romeo return with: Mark Hunt; and, a UFC Dream

"E toa e le loto, a e pa le noo. (Strong in heart, but broken in the back. Of a man whose will is stronger than his body.) - A Samoan proverb

Mark Hunt will fight Junior Dos Santos in a title eliminator at UFC 160 in Las Vegas, Saturday.

Let me repeat, Mark Hunt will vie for a chance at a heavyweight title fight, Saturday.

That's right, the Mark Hunt.

The one who in 2010 boasted a record of five wins and seven losses. The fighter who in September of that same year lost to Sean McCorkle, a veritable no-name, extending his losing streak to six. A man who was one of the only mixed martial artists who was asked by UFC officials to accept a sum of money instead of a contract.

Everyone had all but given up on the "Super Samoan."

But, then came a walk-off knockout win over Chris Tuchscherer at UFC 127 and a unanimous decision victory over Ben Rothwell at UFC 135.

Fans and critics reveled in the flash of Hunt's former striking ability, but largely believed his career was still on the decline.

And, then Hunt knocked out Cheick Kongo.

The MMA community seemed torn between lauding his efforts and scratching their heads. It wasn't so much the finishing punch Hunt delivered to Kongo at UFC 144, it was the manner in which he fought. Hunt appeared to have drastically honed his head and foot movement at the age of 38.

Was there was something left in the former K-1 Grand Prix champion? Or were the MMA gods giving the world one last show?

Those questions seemed to be answered at UFC on Fuel TV 8, when Hunt knocked out Stefan Struve with a left hook in the third round.

The winning streak, now at four, took on mythical qualities.

Fans and critics, alike, begged Dana White and the UFC for him to get a title shot. Videos were made. Articles were published. A hashtag (#rallyformarkhunt) was born.

So here we are, days away from the biggest fight in Hunt's career, and it only seems right for the MMA gods to pull off yet another miracle. Another shock. Another knockout. The MMA community wants it and, above all, Hunt deserves it.

But perhaps Hunt won't conjure the spirits of MMA. Maybe he won't need them. Maybe he can win on his own.

Because, in essence, there is no such thing as MMA gods. There never was.

There is just a man with a dream and an undying will to live it.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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