Ex-UFC champ Matt Serra is retired – barring fight in Madison Square Garden


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matt-serra-7.jpgMatt Serra won’t say he’s officially retired, but he might never fight again.

The former UFC welterweight champion recently told Newsday that a recent health scare put his life into perspective, and right now, he doesn’t see much reason to continue fighting.

That is, unless his longtime promoter finds its way through a legal quagmire that has kept it out of Serra’s home state of New York. A fight in Madison Square Garden is the only thing on his competitive bucket list.

“But at the same time, if that doesn’t happen, I definitely consider myself done,” Serra told Newsday. “It’s hard to say the ‘R word.’ I might never say the ‘R word.’”

Thirteen days remain in the New York State Assembly’s 2013 legislative session, and by all indications, MMA is unlikely to be legalized. Bills aimed at regulating the sport have failed the past four sessions despite indications that they would pass if put to a vote. UFC President Dana White has given up in predicting when the promotion will be able to hold events in the Empire State, and despite thousands of dollars spent in lobbying, it’s unclear whether legislators are any closer to clearing the impasse.

That means Serra (11-7 MMA, 7-7 UFC) could wait at least another year to see his dream realized. But more than that, he’s just happy to be alive.

Recently, the 38-year-old experienced a pain in his arm while cornering one of his fighters at an MMA event. Eventually, his arm became immobile, and he drove himself to the emergency room in the wee hours of the morning.

It was a wise move: Doctors discovered blood clots in his arm and lungs. If unchecked, the condition might have killed him.

“I’m very fortunate to, basically, be here,” he told Newsday. “Sounds kind of morbid. If I didn’t catch that – I was about to go to bed. I’m like, man, something’s not feeling right.” Serra is now forced to inject himself with blood thinners every day for the next three months. He also was forced to undergo surgery to remove the first rib on his left side to prevent future clots from occurring.

Now recovering from the procedure, Serra, who owns two jiu-jitsu schools in his home state, could be back on the mats within two to three months.

“I need my jiu-jitsu, man,” Serra said. “I don’t need to spar. I don’t need to kickbox or box every day. Even if you see me with some pasta, I’m still strangling and arm-locking people at least five days a week and I need that.”

If he does walk away from the sport, “The Terror” ends his career with a 7-7 UFC record that includes the greatest upset in UFC history, a first-round TKO of welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69 that followed his winning turn on “The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Comeback.”

Serra is also known for his rivalry with UFC Hall of Famer and ex-champ Matt Hughes, whom he coached opposite on “TUF 6.” The pair fought to a controversial decision at UFC 98 with Hughes getting a unanimous nod.

“The Terror” previously has pined for a rematch with Hughes, but now, his priorities have shifted.

“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,” Serra told Newsday. “But at the same time, it used to be that the thing that made me happiest was the next fight. 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.”

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