He can’t quite get himself to say it, but for all intents and purposes – save for Madison Square Garden opening up to mixed martial arts – former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra is retired.
Serra hasn’t fought since losing a unanimous decision to Chris Lytle at UFC 119 on Sept. 25, 2010, but has yet to actually utter the dreaded “R word.”
“It's like you can't say it, even though it probably is true,” Serra recently told Newsday when asked if he was retired. “I would love to put closure on my career with one last fight at (Madison Square Garden), but at the same time, if that doesn't happen, I definitely consider myself done. It's hard to say the ‘R word.' I might never say the ‘R word.'”
A recent health scare gave Serra – who had long been contemplating one more fight – a new perspective on his career. Serra had been experiencing pain in his left arm. It flared while cornering one of his fighters at a recent Ring of Combat event and didn’t go away. In fact, it got bad enough that he went to the emergency room.
Doctors discovered two blood clots in his arm and another in his lungs.
Serra wound up staying in the hospital for four days, had one of his ribs surgically removed, and was put on blood thinners.
“Serra's collarbone and first rib were compressing a blood vessel and restricting blood flow, a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome,” Newsday reported. “Serra had the first rib on his left side removed in early May.”
It will take approximately six to eight weeks to recover from the rib removal, and he must remain on blood thinners for about another month after that.
Had the blood clots went undiscovered, death was a distinct possibility.
“You don't catch that (and) after the lung, that stops your heart or your brain,” said Serra. “Then you're done. I'm very fortunate to, basically, be here. Sounds kind of morbid. If I didn't catch that – I was about to go to bed.”
The doctors did catch it, however, and Serra is expected to make a full recovery and return to teaching at his jiu-jitsu schools.
The allure of fighting is always there, the tug of one more shot at glory for the only man to have ever knocked out UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. But at the end of the day, Matt Serra has bigger, better, if less glamorous, plans for himself.
“I know I can be beat by some of these guys, but I know I can still knock some of these guys out and be a threat on the ground. But at the same time, it used to be that the thing that made me happiest was the next fight,” said Serra. “Now, I whistle to work going to my schools. I love hanging out with my kids, my family. That's something you never really anticipate or understand it until you have a family. I love spending time with my girls. I'm a very involved dad.”