by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
After all the talk and a reality show that fueled a rivalry, Matt Serra had to drop out of his title defense against Matt Hughes due to a devastating back injury that will keep the Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder out of action at least through his December fight date.
He spoke exclusively to MMAWeekly.com about the injury and the upcoming bout between Hughes and Georges St-Pierre.
Serra explained how the injury came about during a routine training session, doing nothing differently from his everyday workouts.
“Everything was going great,” he said about training. “It was actually the UFC Countdown show. They were filming me that day. They were here for two days and the first day is when it happened.
“I wanted to work out at (Ray) Longo’s, doing the calisthenics and the pad work and at nighttime I was doing my jiu-jitsu and my wrestling. Everything went great and then they left. I was demonstrating a move. I was showing somebody something from mount and next thing you know, something felt like it clicked. I’ve never been stunned by a stun gun before, but that’s kind of what it felt like I guess.”
After feeling the initial shock from the back injury, Serra explained how painful the injury was and the extent to which it affected him.
“My students had to help me up and I got through the shower pretty painfully. My brother had to get my socks and shoes on and then they took me home. Then, the next day, I went to the hospital, got an MRI. I’ve got two herniated discs in my lower back.”
He tried to wait things out and see if his back felt any better, but eventually had to drop out of the fight with Hughes.
“I gave it a few days,” Serra said. “I didn’t just call up and say it’s off.
“I’ve fought injured before, but to what extent? I can’t even get my socks and shoes on. If I go in there it’s a double-edged sword. It sucks not being able to fight. I’ve never had to do that before. What sucks even worse is that it was with (Matt) Hughes.”
He continued, “Nobody wants to hear anything after the fight. ‘Oh yeah, but I was injured.’ Nobody wants to hear that crap.”
The training camp to prepare for the title bout was entering the final stages before the Dec. 29 date. Serra feels like he was peaking when the injury occurred.
“What’s really depressing is it was going so well, the training,” said Serra. “That day of rolling, I go ‘I’ve got another month of doing this? Dude, I’m going to get him.’ So confident, so eager, just looking forward to it.”
While he now has to sit on the sidelines and watch Hughes battle St-Pierre, he also has to deal with the fact that they will be fighting for an interim title in his absence.
“I think that’s probably the only way they take that fight,” Serra stated about the fight between St-Pierre and Hughes being for an interim title. “Dana (White) called me personally and he told me first. I don’t want to get mad at anybody. If they want to do that and do it champion vs. champion and whatever, they want to run with it, that’s cool. Let them do that, I could care less.”
He also responded to comments made by Hughes on Monday that he was now fighting a much tougher opponent in St-Pierre.
“I almost don’t want to say anything because chances are GSP’s going to beat his ass again, like worse than the first time, and I’m fighting GSP and not him,” Serra stated. “I’d rather fight Matt for more than one reason.”
At the current time, he is unsure how long the injury will keep him out of action, although he hopes to start his rehab workouts in the next few weeks, but he does have a simple promise to the fans.
“I’m positive I’ll be back.”