One day, he may ride a bull or cruise through Sturgis in a sidecar. Another day, he may trade kimuras and wrestling techniques with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson right in the middle of his podcast.
And then there’s everything else as well, from teaching at his two Brazilian Jiujitsu schools to cornering his team at fights around the world to raising his three daughters with his wife, Ann.
So goes life for Matt Serra, the former UFC welterweight champion from East Meadow who last fought in 2010 and remains one of the more prominent personalities in mixed martial arts.
“It’s both funny and amazing how I’m still relevant,” Serra, 43, said.
Serra rose to prominence in UFC 69 by knocking out Georges St-Pierre to win the title on April 7, 2007. It was considered the biggest upset in UFC history at the time. It remains that way 10-plus years later.
Serra, the first American BJJ black belt under Renzo Gracie, became a star that night in Houston. His personality — fun, outgoing, honest, tough guy — carried him far beyond the octagon.
He’s one of the three main stars on the UFC’s reality web series “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight.” Serra joins White, the UFC’s president, and former fighter Din Thomas on excursions across the country to find new fighters to sign and new high jinks to document. From riding live bulls to playing ice hockey, from riding horses on a ranch to riding motorcycles at Sturgis, follies ensue when the cameras roll.
“Whether it’s new fans that have jumped in during the Conor [McGregor] and Ronda [Rousey] era of the sport, or it’s fans that have been following since Day 1, when you’re introduced to Matt Serra, he’s a likable guy,” White said. “He’s a guy’s guy. He’s super funny. He’s a total badass and has his moments, yet, then you see him start crying on camera if he even mentions his daughters. Matt Serra appeals to everyone.”
The show, now in its second season, airs on YouTube. Eight of the nine episodes published so far have eclipsed 1 million views. “I couldn’t imagine doing it without Matt Serra,” White said. “And I say it all the time: Without Matt Serra, there is no ‘Lookin’ for a Fight.’ He is the show.”
Serra’s comedic nature combined with his status among UFC and MMA fans also made him a natural fit to co-host the UFC’s official podcast. Twice a week, Serra and comedian Jim Norton gather in a studio on Manhattan’s West Side to record “UFC Unfiltered.”
“Ten years ago, Matt Serra knocked out Georges St-Pierre, and then obviously, he lost the title, retired,” White said. “And look where he is today. He’s killing it. He just bought a new house for him and his family. He’s got one of the most successful podcasts out of all the podcasts in sports. ‘Lookin’ for a Fight’ is an incredible hit, from the day we launched it. Obviously, things that he’s got going on are very successful right now. God knows what’s next for Matt Serra.”
Serra owns and teaches at BJJ academies in Levittown and Huntington, schools that have produced a handful of UFC fighters, including one champion, and countless jiujitsu practitioners and MMA fighters in other promotions.
“That’s my love, teaching jiujitsu, it’s my passion. It’s just a good time anyway hanging out in my academies with my students,” Serra said. “So, listen, life is good. Life is good. I can’t complain.”
|MATT SERRA’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY|
|May 4, 2001||UFC 31||Shonie Carter||Lost by KO, Round 3, 4:51|
|Sept. 28, 2001||UFC 33||Yves Edwards||Won by majority decision|
|March 22, 2002||UFC 36||Kelly Dullanty||Won by submission, Round 1, 2:58|
|Sept. 27, 2002||UFC 39||B.J. Penn||Lost by unanimous decision|
|Feb. 28, 2003||UFC 41||Din Thomas||Lost by split decision|
|Jan. 31, 2004||UFC 46||Jeff Curran||Won by unanimous decision|
|June 19, 2004||UFC 48||Ivan Menjivar||Won by unanimous decision|
|June 4, 2005||UFC 53||Karo Parisyan||Lost by unanimous decision|
|Nov. 1, 2006||Ultimate Finale 4||Chris Lytle||Won by split decision|
|April 7, 2007||UFC 69||Georges St-Pierre||Won by KO, Round 1, 3:25|
|April 19, 2008||UFC 83||Georges St-Pierre||Lost by TKO, Round 2, 4:45|
|May 23, 2009||UFC 98||Matt Hughes||Lost by unanimous decision|
|Feb. 6, 2010||UFC 109||Frank Trigg||Won by KO, Round 1, 2:23|
|Sept. 25, 2010||UFC 119||Chris Lytle||Lost by unanimous decision|
Photographer: Mark La Monica
Video editors: Greg Inserillo, Mark La Monica