Former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra recently sat down with MMA FanHouse to discuss his upcoming bout with his sworn mortal enemy – and former UFC welterweight champion – Matt Hughes, as well as his experience on the Ultimate Fighter reality show and his future in the fight game. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
FH: How much do you dislike him [Matt Hughes]?
MS: I’ve got to admit, I’m not a big fan. I don’t like him. As a fighter, he’s done good things. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer. But you’ve got to separate the two. As a person, I don’t like him. In any field, when people reach a certain level of success they can either stay level-headed and down to earth, or they can let it get to their heads and become stuck-up jerks. And I think he’s the latter.
FH: Does disliking him give you more motivation to prepare?
MS: It really does. The dislike for each other, everybody asks me, “Is it for real?” Well, yeah. Do I like the guy? No. People say, “You always talk about him.” Well, people ask me about him. If you ask me about him, I’m going to tell you, yeah, the guy is a stuck-up jerk. I don’t like him. I think it would be worse if people asked me and I said, “Oh, I think he’s a swell guy.” I really don’t like the guy and I think it’s better to be who you really are. And of course, it gives you extra motivation to train for a guy that you have a beef with. I don’t want to lose to this guy. I want to put him into retirement.
FH: What do you view as his strengths and how you should approach him as an opponent?
MS: I think he’s more of a one-trick pony. What I mean by that is that he’s very good at his one trick. He’s made his career out of using his wrestling, taking guys down, smushing them against the fence and getting them down, and ground and pound. And he’s not bad with his jiu jitsu. His jiu jitsu level is what’s gone up over the years, his submission level. He’s got good ground control and he’s good at passing the guard. Basically, he’s good at takedowns and he’s good on top. That’s his main thing, that’s his bread and butter. And I feel that I’m a good match-up with him. I really do. I think I’m good off my back if it ends up there. I feel standing up I definitely have an edge. And all-around I think he’s a very good match-up for me.
FH: He’s certainly more experienced than you. This is going to be his 50th pro fight, whereas your record is 16-5.
MS: That doesn’t matter to me at all. If you look at the quality of the fights that we’ve fought, we’ve fought similar guys. We’ve both fought BJ Penn, we’ve both fought Georges St. Pierre. If you look at who we’ve fought, maybe he’s got me on quantity, but a lot of his wins are in Midwest shows against guys who were never heard from again. If you look at quality, I’ve fought just as tough guys as him. I’ve never fought an easy fight. You never get one in the UFC. I don’t think its experience, I think it comes down to skill. I think that’s going to be a big difference. He’s fought so long being the bully – being the bigger, stronger guy – that even though he’s probably stronger than me, and he’s bigger, it comes down to technique, and I’ve got a definite edge in technique on him.
FH: Overall, were you happy with your Ultimate Fighter experiences?
MS: You know, it’s so funny. When I went on the reality show, my season was a comeback show and the winner was getting a title shot, and that’s why I went on, because what they were offering was phenomenal. And I looked at it as, I have the Serra Jiu Jitsu martial arts schools. The exposure of being on that show would be great. I didn’t put much pressure on myself, I just thought if I did well that’d be great, and worst-case scenario, I get exposure. And then I ended up winning the whole thing and shocking a lot of people in my title fight by winning that. Being on Spike TV was nothing but a blessing. It changed my life financially, gave me great exposure and led to the title. That show gave me a shot and I seized that opportunity. And then coaching was great too, because I got to bring Ray Longo, my coach back here in Long Island, I brought Pete Sell, and it was great. Even though Mac Danzig ended up winning the whole thing and he was on Team Hughes, I feel like I destroyed Matt Hughes. My guys won six of eight fights against his. It was a lot of fun, on both seasons.
In addition to the epic showdown between Serra and Hughes, UFC 98 will feature the light heavyweight title fight between current champ Rashad Evans, and undefeated challenger Lyoto Machida.
For the rest of the interview with Matt Serra, click here.