(Oh, this? Just the face of a man who knows he’s about to be chewed out by the Wheaties people. via Getty.)
By Scott Johnson
UFC 185 was a very interesting anomaly in the world of MMA, in which two incumbent champions were dethroned by the challengers who were considered underdogs going into the fight. Carla Esparza was only considered a slight favorite heading into her fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk so the surprise there was minimal, but there weren’t many people expecting to see Rafael Dos Anjos topple Pretty Tony Pettis. Hell, most of us were already looking forward to Pettis vs. Nurmagomedov, but the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and now the UFC Lightweight division has a new champion in its mix.
In the spirit of these events, I’ve compiled what I consider to be the top five upsets in UFC championship history. I have no doubts that there will be a difference in opinion as to which fights belong here or which order they should be in, but in the words of the great Oskar Schindler, “Fuck you, it’s my list and I’ll put who I want on it.”
Gentlemen, rejoice, because everyone’s favorite ball-bustin’, cold cut connoisseur just landed himself a FOX analyst gig! HeeYEEAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!
During last night’s edition of UFC on FOX, it was announced that none other than Long Island’s own Matt Serra (and also Jake Ellenberger) will be serving as a guest analyst for this Saturday’s Fight Night 49: Henderson vs. dos Anjos card. Finally, the era of awkward on-camera fighters stuttering out base-level advice between fights will be over, as the former welterweight champion and TUF 4 alum has become somewhat infamous for his jabberjaw skills. We can only hope now that FOX doesn’t force him to pull in the reigns (or pull out his teeth).
To celebrate what will surely be the funniest night in UFC on FOX history, join us after the jump as we look back at some of “The Terra’s” finest moments.
Fifteen years after starting his professional MMA career, and six years after becoming the UFC welterweight champion in one of the greatest upsets of all time, veteran fighter Matt Serra has told Newsday that he is “walking away” from the sport after a life-threatening health scare.
“I really think I’m walking away,” Serra said. ”I’m going to be 39, I just had my rib taken out. I’m having my third kid. My schools are doing well. What am I doing, looking for another pay day? It’s not really for that. I mean, it doesn’t stink, but it’s not really for that. Am I still trying to hold on for the glory? Glory is a drug, dude. I’m telling you, that’s the problem. It really is. I know why guys can’t walk away. I absolutely get it.”
Serra developed three blood clots that hospitalized him — two in an arm and one more in a lung. “Then I got freaked out,” the Long Island native said. “You don’t catch that [and] after the lung, that stops your heart or your brain. 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. I’m like, man, something’s not feeling right.”
Serra now takes blood thinners and has to receive injections of an anticoagulant per day for the next three months. The blood clots in his arm caused another serious health condition, which required surgery. According to Newsday, Serra’s collarbone and first rib on his left side were compressing a blood vessel and restricting blood flow — a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome — which forced him to have the rib removed in early May.
Despite not having fought since 2010 and now dealing with these serious health issues, Serra cannot bring himself to shut the door completely on fighting in the future or even to use the word “retirement.”
Every once in a while, videos come out that you wish were a little longer. Usually, they include this chick. Others, however, contain candid and inside looks into the lives and mindsets of top fighters. A new one released by Fuel TV called “UFC Roundtable Welterweights” is one of those videos.
Our favorite fitness guru and MMA coach Jay Glazer sat down with four legends — BJ Penn, Renzo Gracie, Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra — to discuss the psychology of pre-fight moments like stare downs, warm ups, and the walk to the cage/ring. Given all the heat and history between most of these guys, it was cool to see them sit next to one another and seemingly enjoy what the others had to say.
St. Pierre, for example, waxed sports-psychologist philosophical about how he turns his fear into courage, and even his two-time nemesis Serra was impressed. Penn gushed about how Renzo was the one guy who didn’t look away from him during a stare down. I guess time and everyone being rich has a way of healing old wounds.
According to a New York State Assembly “insider” quoted in a new report by NY Daily News reporter Kenneth Lovett, “It’s getting harder for [Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver] to keep blocking this,” referring to the bill partially crafted by the UFC to sanction MMA in New York.
“Resistance to it is getting less,” Speaker Silver admitted.
Lovett went on to explain in his report that Assemblyman Robert Reilly — better known around here as “Bob,” and one of New York’s most passionate, confused, and dishonest opponents of MMA sanctioning — is miraculously retiring this week (!!!) and that his departure should take a good deal of steam out of the opposition to MMA in New York. The ban on professional MMA in the state was signed into law by then-Governor George Pataki in 1997, but now even he is calling for the sport’s legalization.
Sources tell The Daily News that if the bill to legalize and regulate professional MMA in New York were brought to a vote in the general assembly right now, it would be passed. However, hurdles remain for the sport and its largest promotion, the UFC. Members of the NY Assembly including Deborah Glick and Daniel O’Donnell still oppose MMA’s legalization, the report says, and they might be able to prevent the measure from getting through committee and to the general assembly for voting.
In addition, the Culinary Workers Union — MMA’s most powerful arch-nemesis in the fight for New York MMA regulation — continues its loud propaganda campaign against the UFC, slamming everything from Dana White’s language to Mandy Moore’s judgment. (Funny story: If you go to the Culinary Union’s anti-UFC website UnfitforChildren.org right now, the lead story is a screen-cap of a CagePotato article. Wisely, they didn’t reprint the article’s first line, which refers to the Union as “two-faced, propaganda pushing arseholes.”)
Nevertheless, UFC President Dana White seems to be as optimistic as ever that his organization will soon put on an event in New York. After UFC 155, the promoter told assembled media that he hoped to host a UFC 20th Anniversary event in Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden this coming fall. “We have a date, and we have a match,” White revealed.
Shoot us your own favorite TUF guys in the comments section, and if you have a topic for a future Roundtable column, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Has there been a more unlikely TUF champion than Amir Sadollah? In 2008, the Persian-Irish surgical technologist came out of nowhere — or in his case, Richmond — to win the seventh season of the show by beating All-American wrestler C.B. Dollaway. Sadollah armbarred Dollaway not once, but twice. Before that, he triangled Matt Brown, who oozed tough. And before that, he TKOd Gerald Harris, who certainly looked tough. At the time, Sadollah had never had a pro fight. Not one. I liked him immediately. Not because he was an upstart, a little doughy around the middle and a bit of a lumberer. There were purer reasons that drew me to a fighter who walks out to Iranian techno music.
For one, he had a mullet. This wasn’t the unaware bumpkin coiffure found in many stretches of this country. Rather, it was a curated flange of keratin that complemented the smirk often playing on Sadollah’s face. It was a mullet that, like its owner, didn’t take itself too seriously. A mullet that grasped irony. And irony has always been in short supply on TUF. The premise of the show — quarantine 16 fighters for a month in a house stocked with unlimited amounts of booze and see what happens — is absurd, although I guess you could say the same about all reality television. As much as I enjoy TUF, the only way I can fully appreciate it is at a sardonic remove. Sadollah allowed me to do that.
With the recent announcement that Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin have been named as the coaches for the next installment of The Ultimate Fighter series, the MMA universe immediately launched into a full-blow orgasmic ticker-tape parade complete with tons of flying confetti and a marching band belting out death metal tunes. Once I heard the news, it was as if my life instantaneously turned into a beer commercial and the entire Potato Nation was invited. There was a rad pool-party, barbeque, a plethora of hotties, endless alcohol, and an overall quest for fun.
Well . . . . . actually, none of that happened. In fact, when word spread that Nelson and Carwin would helm the next season of TUF, it was officially filed under “WTF?” Judging from the comment section, most of the CP brethren didn’t care for the choices either. TUF is coming off a season that saw the ratings dip lower than they ever had, which could partially be blamed on the move to FX and the dreaded Friday night time slot. Regardless of the variables for the ratings drop, something drastic needs to be done, but is anybody really convinced that Carwin and Nelson are the answer to TUF’s slow and painful demise? Let’s start from the beginning and take a look back to see if this runaway train can be coaxed back onto the main rail.
The Season That Started it All
The inaugural season of TUF featured future Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture as the competing coaches who would go mano y mano at the PPV after the season finale. For fans of the UFC, that was good enough for most to initially tune in for the Fertitta-funded experiment. It still remains the best crop of young talent and personalities to ever grace the show; future stars like Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Josh Koscheck, Chris Leben, Diego Sanchez, Mike Swick, Kenny Florian, and Nate Quarry were all complete unknowns vying for stardom in a fledgling sport. You mix in the whole “fatherless bastard” angle and the show was off and running even before the awe-inspiring climax between (pre TRT) FoGrif and The American Psycho. Even before that, we were treated to the greatest speech of all time that has since been condensed into a few words. “Do you wanna be a fighter?” Though there were other memorable moments from the seasons that followed, Zuffa should have quit while they were ahead because it would never be this good again. The unrefined personification of immature talent, undeniable aspirations and gonzo-sized balls oozed from the boob tube during every episode.
(FoGriff: A laid back guy in every sense of the word.)
Watching Matt Serra and Forrest Griffin discuss anything from their past fights to the condition of Griffin’s car (which makes me feel a hell of a lot better about the condition of my own) is kind of like watching an Abbott and Costello movie, minus the mythological creatures and slapstick hijinks, of course. The two effortlessly riff off one another like a pair of old pals, which makes Serra’s recent trip to Vegas to film his ongoing series for the UFC, Fight Camp Insider, all the more entertaining.
Taking the typical “light on actual fight discussion, heavy on pizza discussion” approach that Serra has mastered in previous outings, the pair of former champions also make sure to discuss such topics as the shrinkage caused by an ice bath (which I can only assume must be insane), FoGriff’s Ted Bundy-esque mode of transportation, and the ability of Ray Longo to clear a house using only the power of his mighty deuces. Oh yeah, and they manage to find enough time to briefly hype Forrest’s upcoming trilogy match with Tito Ortiz at UFC 148.