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Fightweets: How to honor Matt Serra's MMA legacy

Al Bello

Matt Serra's UFC welterweight title upset over Georges St-Pierre at UFC 67 was so improbable that it overshadowed the fact that it took an improbable sequence of events simply for Serra to meet GSP in the Octagon in the first place.

The Long Islander's first UFC run, from 2001-05, produced a respectable 5-4 record, but was remembered as much for weirdness in his losses as anything else. There was the spinning back fist loss to Shonie Carter at UFC 31 with nine seconds left in a bout Serra was winning handily. And there was a split decision loss to Din Thomas at UFC 41 in a bout that was announced in the cage as a Serra victory before a scoring error was later noticed and the result changed.

Serra's UFC 53 loss to Karo Parisyan might have been the last we saw from him in Zuffa, had it not been for The Ultimate Fighter Season 4, the comeback season. Simply being placed on TUF 4 was improbable step one toward the title. Then he won a bizarre split decision in the finale against Chris Lytle, with two 30-27 scores going his way and another going in Lytle's favor. That was the next hurdle. Then there was the postponement of the original date for Serra's title fight with GSP at UFC 67. If St-Pierre doesn't injure a knee in training and the fight isn't put off, does Serra pull off the upset two months later? Yet another "what if."

This chain of events, of course, culminated in one of the most memorable moments in mixed martial arts history, Serra's first round, title-winning TKO. Sure, St-Pierre convincingly proved the better man in the rematch. But Matt Serra will go down as the guy who forever proves that anything can happen in MMA, and that's a pretty cool spot to have.

Serra announced his retirement Wednesday via Newsday. The story details recent health issues I wouldn't wish on anyone. Just about anyone in this business who has crossed paths with Serra will tell you he's one of the most standup guys in the sport and an all-around good person. So here's best wishes Matt, both that you return to health and enjoy your retirement.

If the UFC wants to honor the career legacy of a fighter like Serra, then it should consider another "comeback" season of TUF somewhere down the road. There's a bigger pool of talented fighters for such a season than there was in 2006, and who knows? Maybe it will produce the sport's next Matt Serra Moment.

Where's the buzz for 160?

@Ryan211: Just me or is there little buzz surrounding UFC 160? It's a stacked card in my opinion!

I remember hearing the same thing about a lack of buzz before UFC 155, and the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos fight ended up doing nearly 600,000 buys, a very healthy figure.

No doubt the UFC is a bit hampered by having a rematch of a fight that was a mismatch the first time out, and Silva's a first-time pay-per-view headliner, to boot. This adda up to one of those events that catches the public imagination early in the week and makes it seem like a hot item to the mainstream.

Bottom line, Velasquez has a superstar following among Latino fans in California and the Southwest. Maybe those fans don't devour everything that comes up in the MMA bubble the way other fans do, and thus fly under the radar. But they're the ones responsible for driving the Velasquez-dos Santos buys and I wouldn't be surprised if they push UFC 160 to bigger-than-expected numbers as well.

Heavyweight matchmaking

@ELcujorino: What are your thoughts on the UFC not giving Big Country an opponent he deserves? Top 10 HW should've gotten Barnett or DC!

@Dpop2: Sooooo.... Barnett vs mir? I wish it was Barnett vs Nelson. U?

Yeah, the late UFC 161 addition of Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic is a bit of a head-scratcher. My best educated guess on this is that the UFC wanted to add a little bit of star power to the card after the interim bantamweight title fight fell through. Likewise, it's a reasonable bet that Nelson feels he can get a fight in, stay busy, get another paycheck, then be able to turn back around in time to face someone off this weekend's heavyweight doubleheader. All things considered, it's not the worst choice he could have made.

As for Barnett, a fight with Frank Mir seems a natural, doesn't it? Barnett returning and fighting a guy who held the title during an era many expected to dominate, with two guys who have a strong history of selling their fights, would make for a strong co-feature-type bout.

Volkmann's complaints

@crazedfishUK: Between Denis, Cummo, Cholish and Serra's retirement due to health/finance, is Volkman's argument a legitimate one?

Man, Jacob Volkmann really is a piece of work. Let me get this straight: Volkmann got a ton of attention by being anti-Obamacare, pro-Republican, and a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" individual ... until the pro-business, anti-union policies fostered by his very belief system came back to bite him. Now's he's complaining about poor healthcare? C'mon, man. At least have some consistency.

I've said it before, but the bottom line is, the only way anything changes is if the fighters at the top of the ladder, the ones making the big money, choose to use their power to act on behalf of guys like Josh Cholish or Nick Denis. Otherwise, nothing's going to change. Given that the system is weighted in a manner the Jacob Volkmann of 2010 would have applauded, don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Next up for ‘Money'

@Jared_W21: Where does C.Mendes go from here? he's in limbo in FW. Does he get the next title shot? Or face winner of Lamas/Zombie?

Chad Mendes has won three fights in a row since his loss to Jose Aldo and is clearly ready to get back into the Octagon with one of the top guys at featherweight. On paper, it appears his best bet is actually the loser of the Ricardo Lamas-Chan Sung Jung fight at UFC 162. The Lamas-Zombie winner figures to get a title shot, so the loser makes sense, at least from the perspective of the divisional scheme of things.

Of course, Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson both have fights at UFC 162 as well, and you wouldn't have to twist my arm too hard to get me to watch Mendes fight either of them. Either way, come July 7, Mendes should have his pick of top-tier opponents.


@ynneKrepmatS: What do you think about George Roop vs Brian Bowles fighting on Facebook? I think it should at least be on FX.

Ehh ... I can see both sides of this. Bowles hasn't fought in two years and Roop has dropped two of his past three, so one's been off the grid and the other hasn't exactly been blazing a trail. Looking at the FX card, the only fight I really see as one that could potentially be bumped for Bowles-Roop is Colton Smith vs. Robert Whittaker. But I can understand the UFC wanted to give a guy who was a TUF finalist last year a look on cable. The Bowles fight probably shouldn't be on Facebook, but I'm not going to lose sleep over this one.

Ramp it up

@DestroyKillBurn: Would pro-wrestling style entrances help or hurt the UFC? Remember, the general public is downright stupid

Elaborate, theatrical arena entrances aren't my cup of tea. I get that they were part of the experience of watching PRIDE, and that's cool, but it just wasn't my thing.

Back in the early days of Zuffa, they actually used props like a stage, ramp, pyrotechnics, etc. Dana White recently admitted the company did it in part because it filled space in the arena during a time it wasn't selling many tickets. Let's put it this way: Once they were gone, I don't recall anyone ever saying they weren't going to buy a UFC event because the ramp was gone, except maybe from the occasional nut who takes the supposed similarities between pro rasslin' and MMA too seriously.

White and Lorenzo Fertitta are fans of the old-school boxing style entrances, where everyone in the arena had to peer toward the entrance way and see the fighters emerge from the woodwork. It's highly unlikely they ever go back to elaborate entrances, and that's fine by me.

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