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MMA HALL OF FAME Nominee » Matt Serra

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Matt Serra • Class of 2009 • Debut 7 April 1999 vs. Scott Schultz.
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by Justin Teplitz

Matt "The Terror" Serra was born in East Meadow, New York on June 2, 1974. Like many others before him, Serra had to earn respect from people the hard way - through a phenomenal
work ethic. At 5' 6" tall, Serra's heart and dedication made him a larger than life figure in mixed martial arts.

Serra started training with the legendary Renzo Gracie in the mid 90s, and established an internation reputation as a grappler, taking gold at the BJJ Pan Ams, bronze and the Mundials, and silver in the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships (Serra gave passage to his teammate Marcio Feitosa in the finals). In 2000 he earned the first American black belt ever awarded by Renzo, and his attention increasingly turned to mixed martial arts.

"The Terror" entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship in May 2001 with an undefeated record, drawing Shonie Carter. Serra was dominating Carter throughout their fight, until Carter's spinning back fist ended the bout. While some fighters would simply walk away from mixed martial arts after such a devastating UFC debut, Serra joked that he lost to a "spinning bitch slap," and trained even harder with Renzo.

In his next fight, Serra beat Yves Edwards, and then was matched up with Frank Shamrock protege Kelly Dullante. Shamrock had publicly declared that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was outdated, but with Renzo in his corner and Shamrock on the other side, Serra used Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to triangle Dullanty in the first round.

Serra continued fighting in the UFC and with a defeate Chris "Lights Out" Lytle in The UFC's Ultimate Fighter 4 finale, earned Serra a shot at the welterweight championship belt against Georges St. Pierre, who many viewed as unbeatable.

The vast majority of fans believed St. Pierre would destroy Serra any way he wanted. However,
at UFC 69 in April 2007, Matt Serra knocked George St. Pierre out in the first round of their bout, in the greatest upset in UFC history. Serra lost a mandatory rematch, and fought three more times, but his focus increasingly turned to teaching.

Serra began teaching, with Renzo's blessing, on Long Island way back in 1997, when he was just a purple belt, on mats that would scare away ring worm. In 2001, along with his brother Nick, now also a BJJ black belt and UFC veteran (their father is a black belt, too), Serra moved to a more commercial facility, and then opened a second one in 2003.

At their phenomenally successful academies, the pair have turned out a new generation of fighters, including Chris Weidman, Pete Sell, Luke Cummo, Costantinos Philippou, Al Iaquinta, among many others.

Serra is now happily married with two children, and may not weigh in at 155 any time soon, but he is far from done with mixed martial arts. "It's not about me," Serra explains. "It's about these young kids coming up..."

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