WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. -- When Bellator and Viacom started dishing out big dollars to recently retired veterans, many former competitors with name value found themselves wondering whether they had a fight or two left in them.
As far as former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra is concerned, though, there's a time to realize enough is enough.
"I always say an aging fighter is like an aging stripper," Serra said. "Fighters, they're not as funny. An aging stripper is funny. But who wants to see that? I don't want to take my shirt off on TV."
With Bellator's next legends fight around the corner, the topic is working its way back into the conversation. While Serra doesn't want to disrespect Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock, who headline Bellator 149 on Feb. 19, he makes it clear their fight isn't something he's itching to see, either.
"To each their own, but I mean, they're 50 or so," Serra said. "They're old. I don't want to badmouth them, they're doing their thing, its the fight game."
For his part, the 41-year old Serra, who retired after his unanimous decision loss to Chris Lytle at UFC 119, said he knew his time was up when fighters called him out and he was more concerned with taking his daughter out to the local park.
"Here's when I knew it was time not to fight anymore," Serra said. "Usually when someone would say they want to fight me, back in the day, I'd get pissed off, and I'd be like, 'oh really? You just made the mistake of your life, motherf-----.' And I remember, literally, I was on my iphone and I was about to go to the park with my kid, and I saw someone call me out, and I was like, ‘I don't give a s---.' That's when I knew it was over."
Retirement's easier to take when you've got something to fall back on. In Serra's case, he's kept plenty busy running two gyms on Long Island and coaching with the Serra-Longo Fight Team, with standouts such as Chris Weidman, Al Iaquinta, and Aljamain Sterling. And he's also enjoying his role in the new UFC Fight Pass series "Dana White: Lookin' for a Fight," which has been well-received.
But just about every fighter, even the ones who have no real desire to do it again, has that one opponent or scenario that could make a return worthwhile. And Serra isn't afraid to admit that if the UFC called and offered him a rematch with Matt Hughes, he'd take it.
Serra and Hughes built up a dislike for one another on the set of The Ultimate Fighter 6. Their coaches' fight, the co-feature bout of UFC 98, earned Fight of the Night honors. But Serra came out on the wrong end of 29-28 across-the-board scores.
"That one I'd come back for," Serra confesses. "I get so mad just thinking about him. I thought I won the fight, I took him down, I was in control. Tthat guy didn't think I belonged in there with him at all, he was such a pompous idiot."