Serrano will be looking to bounce back from his first professional loss and get his third win in the UFC against Hector Sandoval in Sacramento, Calif.
‘El Profe’ is one of those rare fighters that has had almost his entire career in the UFC. Serrano, who’s a former Olympic wrestler, representing Colombia, was only 1-0 as a professional fighter before he got the call to compete in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. Since the show, the flyweight fighter racked up two consecutive stoppage wins inside the UFC before losing to Ryan Benoit in a close split decision back at UFC 201.
Despite thinking he should have been declared the winner against Benoit, Serrano says he got a valuable lesson from that bout.
“The lesson that I learned against Benoit is that you can’t leave the fight on the hands of the judges,” Serrano told MMA Fighting. “Regardless, it’s a hard game within the fight, but basically it’s that. You have to go out there, even if you’re bleeding, even if you think you’re winning, and you have to look for the finish.”
Having only turned pro three years ago, Serrano is very honest when it comes to his MMA game, but he’s convinced he’s yet to show his full skillset in the UFC.
“We know that there are many deficiencies in my game and we’ve been working on them,” Serrano explained. “But we also know that there are many strengths that can surprise. There are many things I haven’t been able to showcase in my performances, so for this fight we’re looking to deliver many surprises with new things.”
Serrano received some criticism on his striking in his bout against Benoit. The 37-year-old fighter said he’s been working hard on his stand up and looks to show that against Sandoval. But knowing that Team Alpha Male’s Sandoval likes to grapple, he’s ready to fight wherever the contest goes.
“There are many things I’m looking to showcase, and one of those is my striking game, so I’m planning to play with those tools,” Serrano said. “And obviously, all that will be combined with my strength in wrestling, so we’re working in that mixture of things.
“People are going to see part of that (striking). We’ve been working a lot on that area and I believe that that will come into play, but maybe it might play out where he wants to test who’s better in wrestling, so wherever the fight goes we’re prepared.”
Several of Serrano’s fellow cast members from TUF: Latin America have eventually made a move from their Latin American countries to the U.S. to get higher-level training in U.S.-based MMA teams. Serrano knows the level of MMA training in the U.S. is usually higher than in Latin American countries, but he’s not willing to move his training camp to America, as he wants to invest in Colombia’s MMA scene by keeping his training camp ‘criollo’ style.
“Well, I think that we need to go to the U.S. because the level here is high, and I believe that at times during preparation we need to be here [U.S.] because the strongest level of MMA is here,” Serrano said. “But we also consider that if we really want to contribute to MMA in Colombia, we need to do it here in Colombia. So we’ve invested in Colombia on physical trainers, psychologists, and everyone that works around this preparation. That’s how we’ve played it, how I think, and how I thought during my wrestling career.
“We consider that before there is a fight we need to be training in the U.S., improving many aspects of the game, trying to do hard sparring where you can push yourself. And once you get a fight, you can’t risk doing sparring as hard, as many injuries can come from it. So we think that that type of preparation has to be done before fights, with anticipation, to improve the level, and then come back to Colombia to organize what need to be done for the competition.”