Jon Brown Reporting:
On April 19 Matt Serra travels into Hostile territory where he looks to make lightning strike twice against MMA’s juggernaut George St. Pierre. UFC 83 at The Bell Centre in the beautiful city of Montreal has sold faster then any event in UFC history. In this MMANews.com Exclusive Matt talks about the biggest fight of his career, the psychology of being a fighter, the TUF experience, and much more.
JB: How’s training going for the fight Champ?
MS: It’s going great. I can’t complain: the sparing the rolling it all feels good.
JB: You were forced to with draw from the New Year’s Eve bout against Matt Hughes with a herniated disk. Are a 100 % rehabilitated?
MS: O yeah man I’m feeling great! Like I said I’m sparing and rolling.
JB: Do you think it will be harder then usual to cut the weight, because you’re coming off an injury?
MS: Nah man I use to fight at 155. The fight is over two months away once I start to really get into training, and eating correctly making 170 won’t be a problem at all. I mean everyone’s got their Achilles heal in the off season. You know what I mean? Some guys like to drink, some guys like crack, me, I like Italian food that’s my Achilles.
JB: You haven’t fought since winning the title. Are you worried about the long lay off?
MS: Not at all man. Some guys are what you call “gym fighters” You know they can do amazing things in the gym but then can’t do the same thing when it comes down to the fight. Me, I’m not selective when it comes to sparing. I do it so much by the time I get to the fight it’s just like another day in the office. I’m game! It’s not going to be a problem at all.
JB: Explain the psychology behind a “gym fighter”?
MS: Well some guys just don’t like getting hit. Some guys can look great on the pads, or when they have the Gi on, you know they can roll around and slap on arm bars, and chokes, but then in a fight they will get hit, and their afraid to see their own blood. With other guys it’s just anxiety man. They question themselves to much. This happens in a lot of sports, but I think even more so in MMA, because no matter what you do there is always a way you can win or lose. You know you zig instead of zag and the fight is over. I fight the way I train and spar. I try to make the training harder then the fight. I always got fresh guys coming at me. I want to get my technique exactly where I want it before the fight. I’ll spar right up to the week of the fight if I have too.
JB: Georges has beat Josh Koscheck, and Matt Hughes in his last two fights. What were your impressions of those fights?
MS: You know he’s very gifted athlete. There are probably a lot of sports he could be good at. I think it’s more about the guys he’s fighting: who are both talented fighters in there own right, even Matt Hughes who I can’t stand of course. With GSP I think it’s about how you go in there mentally. I’m not going to go in there thinking how can I beat this guy by decision? I’m going in there with the mentality: the hell with him, I’m trying to take him out, it’s him or me! That’s why I was smiling the first time I got in there with him. You give me a title shot and I’m going to f***ing go for it. Who wants to watch a five round boring fight? I think with my jujitsu skills I can defend myself against anybody, but I’m not there to defend myself. I’m there to try to take someone out! It’s me or him homey. Let the chips fall where they may.
JB: You were a huge underdog in your first fight with GSP. You go in there and destroy him in one round. Now going into the re-match you’re a big underdog again. What gives?
MS: I think it’s the whole package with St. Pierre. I just got back from Canada where we did a press conference to hype the fight. Dana White starts off the conference talking about how sponsors are tripping over their feet to get to GSP, and how he’s shocked that Georges isn’t on a Wheaties box yet. Then he gets to me and he’s like Matt’s a really unique individual. (Laughs). But I don’t blame him I mean look at GSP. He looks like the poster boy for Crest. He’s Captain Canada!
JB: Talk about that trip a little bit. After the fight both you and Georges have exchanged words in the media. What’s the tempo between you guys like now?
MS: Well after what happen the first time with him tapping out, I mean they called it a TKO, but he taped. I think now a lot of his attitude towards me has to do with his mental state. I think he needs me to be the bad guy. I mean whatever he’s got to do to get himself there is fine with me. I mean if he has to lie on the couch, and listen to his shrink to tell him to put Matt Hughes head on my body that’s cool. I definitely don’t hold him in the same light as Matt Hughes, but I think he’s got to put himself in the mindset that he doesn’t like me, and that’s cool. I got a lot of friends and family, so if he wants to be enemies it’s not the end of the world.
JB: Spike had a UFC Access on him before his first fight with you showing how hard he was training for the fight. Then after the fight he starts saying he noly trained for the fight. That was out character for him. Why do you think he made those comments?
MS: He’s a young guy, and he’s surrounded by people telling him this and that. I mean the guy was champion at 25. I didn’t even get into the UFC until I was 26. It’s a lot of pressure for a young guy, and I think he said stuff that he later regretted. I got no hard feelings from that. I’m approaching this fight like this guy is coming in there to do some damage to me. I took him out the first time in pretty good fashion. I know he’s coming in there to make an example of me, because that’s the same thing I’d be looking to do. That really psyches me up! I can’t wait.
JB: Is Joe Scarola still training with you?
MS: No, he’s never been back. He opened up his own school. I wish him lots of luck. I don’t hate the guy or anything. I just couldn’t keep him around after what happen. I felt like I did everything I could do for the guy. I honestly do.
JB: Regardless of what happens on April 19, is Matt Hughes still on your radar?
MS: Well I think that’s a fight that’s going to have to happen. You know a lot of things have been said. It will defiantly happen in the future.
JB: Everybody knows you guys had bad blood on the show. But there was never a Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz type incident. Did you guys just try to avoid each other?
MS: Matt Hughes was kind of being like Eddie Haskell. He’s the type of guy that will say with a straight face: I never said anything bad about you. I just think your last fight was a total fluke, or you’re not a top ten fighter but I’m not saying anything bad about you. I hate those type of guys. I just don’t think he’s a good person.
JB: Luke Cummo has a fight coming up at UFC 82 against Luigi Fioravanti. What do you think about that fight?
MS: That fight has fight of the night written all over it. It’s going to be a rough fight. Luke’s a warrior man, there’s no quit in that guy. Luigi is also a tough guy. That fight is going to be great.
JB: Who do you like in the main event with Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson?
MS: To tell you the truth I don’t even know. I mean Henderson might have the edge. He just went five rounds with Quinton Jackson. You know what I mean? But I don’t know Anderson is on such a role. I think it really is one of those it can go either way type of fights.
JB: I know you got a $100 K sponsorship from winning the Ultimate fighter. Did you end up getting screwed on that deal?
MS: I got a big chunk of it, but I didn’t get all of it. I love Xyience that shit is great, but I’m going to have to see what’s going on with that to get the rest of my cash.
JB: Right. Well I think they filed chapter 11, so I don’t know about that.
MS: Yeah, well thanks for ruining my night… (5 seconds of awkward silence) I’m just kidding man. (Laughs).
JB: (laughs) You are the UFC Welterweight Champion. You knocked out the former UFC champion out in one round. Most welterweight rankings have your ranked number 2 behind GSP. Does that bother you?
MS: Nah man I have gotten, so much out of this sport, so I don’t see any reason to pay attention to anything negative. You know with the car I’m driving, and the house I’m living in, and everything else I got out of this sport I truly believe I hit the lottery.
JB: Anything you like to say in closing Matt?
MS: If anyone wants to know what’s going on with me, my schools, get some DVDs, or merchandise you can got to serrajitsu.com. I get my e-mail through there, so if you want to say what’s up, wish me good luck, tell me why you hate me, it’s all good whatever you want.