Monday, January 24, 2022

Matt Serra Feels “Hurt” & “Disrespected” By Sterling’s UFC 259 Snub

Former UFC champion and Aljamain Sterling’s coach Matt Serra can’t help but feel disappointed and even a bit betrayed by being excluded from his star pupil’s corner at UFC 259.

The night of March 6, 2021 will go down as a night Aljamain Sterling will never forget. On this night, he made history as the first man to become a UFC champion off of a disqualification after being illegally kneed flush in the face. As one could imagine, such an occurrence was sure to elicit a range of emotions for “The Funkmaster.” But there was one man absent from Sterling’s corner to share in those emotions during the immediate aftermath of the UFC 259 bantamweight title fight: longtime coach Matt Serra.

On the UFC Unfiltered podcast, Matt Serra addressed his absence and the emotions that he felt when being left behind of the biggest fight of his protege’s life (transcription via Adam Martin).

“So when I talked to him, we talked a little bit about sparring partners and this and that. So I understand if it’s about that, I understand. But then I’m watching (UFC 259) and I have nothing against Eric Nicksick, he’s a nice guy and it’s not his fault Aljo went there, but it’s like, hey man, you’re gonna have some guy you been working with for three months and I’ve been with you for seven years? If that’s what you want then I understand. 

I'm retiring from the whole cornering thing' - Matt Serra felt  'disrespected' by Aljamain Sterling snub at UFC 259 - Bloody Elbow
Team Serra-Longo. Credit:  Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

“But this is the thing. Now, this is no longer this thing of ours with mine or Longo. And that’s all, we did this (Team Serra – Longo) with the intention of guys reaching their goals. But you can’t help but feel disrespected. From the time this guy got into the UFC, you can point to one time I missed a sparing session in seven years. I got a family, but you train, you go, and you do it proudly because you’re backing up your guy. It’s our guy vs. another savage that’s what it is.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I was a little hurt. And I love everyone involved, but you gotta know when people make choices there are consequences.”

Matt Serra was so affected by Sterling’s perceived snub that he has decided to never corner a fighter again.

“My thing is, going forward, it’s better now to make an exit on a high note,” Serra said. “I loved cornering, but what is it for the next fight, is it me and Nicksick with rock paper scissors to see who gets to corner? I have a family. I will always be in this kid’s corner, just not physically anymore. And not by my choice, but by the choices that are made here. So I’m retiring from the whole cornering thing.”

There is something to be said for Matt Serra opening up his thoughts and emotions in such an unfiltered (pardon the pun) manner. It speaks to the level of pain and disappointment he must have felt and also the lack of closure he and Sterling were able to reach on the matter privately. The situation is still very fresh, though, so it is not too late for Sterling and Serra to hash things out and resolve this issue prior to Sterling’s next fight, which may have Serra’s familiar face and presence right there ringside once again.

Do you think Matt Serra is overreacting to not being included in Aljamain Sterling’s corner at UFC 259?

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