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“Tappin’ Out’s for *Whores*”: Matt Serra at the 7/11


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Oh this? It’s just me hangin’ out at a 7/11 on the OSU campus in Columbus with my buddy, UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra. Pretty average Saturday night, really.

Alright, let me explain. You want the long version? Good.

The hierarchy of hatred in Columbus, Ohio, seems to go like this:

1) The University of Michigan, particularly its football team and its mascot, the wolverine.
2) New Yorkers.
3) All other non-Ohio residents.

As a U of Michigan grad who’s lived in New York for the last 5+ years, I could feel their eyes as soon as I stopped into Tommy’s Pizza to take a piss. It wasn’t paranoia; they knew. I got a sense of what it must feel like for a Crip to walk through a Blood neighborhood. That’s both an apt metaphor and a totally lazy one, as most people on the Ohio State campus — where I booked my hotel, mainly out of curiosity — were flying Blood-like colors yesterday. Literally everyone under the age of 25 and over the age of 50 was decked out in Ohio State sweatshirts, jackets, hats, whatever. It turns out that the Ohio State Wrestling Championships were that weekend — fitting, since former OSU wrestling champ Mark Coleman was going to be inducted in the UFC’s Hall of Fame that night — and the sporting types of Columbus were showing their support. So here I come into Tommy’s with my black pea-coat and reptilian loafers (already I was thinking afterparty), and my big Jew nose, reeking of Ann Arbor pheromones. Forks hits plates, a record scratched.

 

The scene was too hot. But with a 40-minute wait for lunch (so they said) at B-Dubs a couple blocks down, I settled on a nearby noodle shop that, despite its cosmopolitan aspirations (you could get Asian, Mediterranean, or American-style noodles), still featured wait-staff with shirts that read “As Satisfying as Beating Michigan.”

This is all just a long way of saying that I could relate to Matt Serra when they showed the welterweight champ on the jumbotrons during UFC 82 last night and the crowd booed him. His face registered genuine shock before he started to play along with the crowd, doing that “bring on the hate” hand gesture that athletes like to do in hostile towns. Maybe I’m oblivious to this because I’m a New Yorker, but I just assumed UFC fans dug Matt Serra, because he has a great underdog story behind him. Turns out, they don’t feel that way in Ohio. Jorge Gurgel on the other hand, they love. And Anderson Silva was smart enough to thank Rich Franklin after he beat Dan Henderson, rather than Dan himself, lest he get run out on a rail for re-opening old wounds.

Trey and Barry, two UFC fanatics from Tennessee who kept me company in section 101, echoed the Matt Serra hate. “I just can’t stand that guy,” Trey said as Serra showed up to corner Luke Cummo. “No offense.” None taken. But when Cummo and the rest of the New York contingent were handed a loss, the crowd cheered heartily.

After the mind-blowing main event, I stopped by Mynt, which was allegedly throwing an afterparty hosted by Dan Henderson, but I became impatient with the strobe-lights and the crush of people — I don’t even know how they would fit Dan Henderson in that place — so I called a cab from the Hyatt Regency and made it back to my own hotel at about 2 a.m. And just as I’m walking in, I see Matt Serra walking out.

Immediately two fans stopped him and he graciously shook their hands, asked them what they thought of the fights, and explained that the Holiday Inn had no room service, and he was going to the 7/11 to get something to eat. Being the strong investigative journalist that I am, I trailed him like a crackhead mugger.

So now we’re both in the 7/11. Not wanting to freak him out by pouncing right away, I let him browse the shelves for a moment, but another pair of fans got to him first and started chatting him up. As with the fans at the hotel, he shook their hands, asked them what they thought of the fights, and explained that the Holiday Inn had no room service and he was trying to get something to eat. “Did you see them booing me?” he said, still sort of shocked and hurt. “They don’t seem to like us here,” I said, introducing myself. Then I stuck my camera in his face; the result is above.

I’m not sure what Matt settled on, snack wise, because it was slim pickins at this particular 7/11. I saw no pre-made sandwiches, microwavable burritos, or any other of their usual late-night staples, and Matt probably missed his fourth-meal altogether. Columbus may have a great football team and collegiate wrestling pedigree, but I’m very glad I live in a town where you can get a decent slice of pizza at 2 in the morning. You know why Ohioans hate us New Yorkers? Our freedom.

***

We have tons to discuss tomorrow about UFC 82. I plan on setting a CagePotato record for posts in one day — featuring more off-topic anecdotes, photos and videos — so come back early and look sharp.

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tony@rbdmma- March 7, 2008 at 8:32 pm
Great read. Sadly, sports are all they have... better than Cinci though... all we have is riots.

You should have asked Serra to do his Hughes impression, now that is some funny shit!

Serra got booed because "ultimate fighting" fans in general are the lowest common denominator and don't know shit about MMA or what it takes to be a professional fighter.
clitwizard- March 7, 2008 at 12:24 am
fuck ohio. bunch of white coffe faced crackers
JudgeIto- March 3, 2008 at 7:12 am
Having trained in the past with Serra on a number of occasions, I can say that not only is one of the nicest guys in MMA, he's one of the nicest people I have ever met, period.
For all the comments about him not beating anyone, isn't there any respect in a razor-thin or close loss? People always talk about Ricco beating Nog, but no one gives credit to Serra for his almost-win againt BJ (I thought he won rounds two and three) or against Din Thomas. Also, the losses in his career are not to guys like Josh Rafferty, but legit contenders for the 155 belt at the time.

/end Serra aplogist rant
Knightrider- March 2, 2008 at 10:11 pm
Ben Fowlkes: I watched the fight at McCann's on Ditmars and 36th ave. It was packed but if you'd rather pay $ 10 for a 2 drink min. instead of pay-per view $ then...
DESTROYER- March 2, 2008 at 5:26 pm
You know why Ohio is so proud of their football and wrestling?
BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO BE PROUD OF.
tim sylvia's pussy- March 2, 2008 at 7:05 am
and u gotta love serra he seems like a cool guy
tim sylvia's pussy- March 2, 2008 at 7:05 am
Hahaha u are so right about Ohio State people. I live in Columbus and a few weeks ago i went to a frat party and a bunch of guys tried to fight me for wearing a Texas hat...
godzillad- March 2, 2008 at 6:50 am
Goddamm I can't stand Serra.
Aryan- March 2, 2008 at 5:34 am
Matt Serras fuckin awesome
Old, Bald and Irish- March 2, 2008 at 5:24 am
"Guadalup Funkalicious" is a kick ass screen name.

...almost as good as "MMA-hole".....almost.
Guadalup Funkalicious- March 2, 2008 at 5:16 am
If memory serves, I hate Serra for the "don't forget the footstomps" and the "and your breathing" lines in every TUF fight he ever cornered. That ruined any enjoyment I could have gotten out of the carnage... All I could hear is Matt... Come to think of it I can still hear it... Am I crazy? NO MATT!!! I will never forget the friggin footstomps thanks to you!!!
Joey- March 2, 2008 at 5:06 am
Serra looks like a chill guy and all I could say is that he gets more hate than he should. Very skilled fighter who did what every underdog dreams of, shocking the world. i wonder how Matt Hughes, an Ohio legend, would have treated you at 2 a.m. in a 7-11??

On a side note, Being from SoCal and attending SC, I understand the hate from walking in rival areas. Very funny post, great site. keep it up and don't sell out to the UFC like MMAjunkie.com
Ben Fowlkes- March 2, 2008 at 3:25 am
Knightrider, you watched the fights at a bar in Astoria? I live in Astoria, and had no idea there were any bars that showed the UFC around here. Which one was it? Of course, I'm probably still going to opt to watch it in the comfort of my apartment, but it's good to know the option exists.
Damian- March 2, 2008 at 3:15 am
Awesome writing. Love him or hate him Matt Serra is truly a character, But also a truly nice guy.
MikeG- March 2, 2008 at 2:23 am
Great read! LMFAO .... born & raised on Long Island LOL!!!!
Knightrider- March 2, 2008 at 2:16 am
Ahh yes, the N train! I took it to watch the fights last night at a bar in Astoria. Place was packed with annoying amatuer fans. They made for some interesting commentary.
PotatoHead- March 2, 2008 at 2:06 am
Have to agree with "KC is a c**t" and Ben Fowlkes. This is the undisputed MMA heavyweight champion website of the world!!!
Old, Bald and Irish- March 2, 2008 at 1:59 am
Hey Noah, you don't have to defend yourself for liking GSP. GSP has earned every bit of respect and admiration that he is enjoying now. He didn't get to this point on luck. It was skill and determination. Ditto for Serra.

GSP vs Serra is gonna be one of the best UFC fights......EVER.

I already have 20 people signed up for our house party to watch the fight. Cigars, red meat and whiskey.....I can't wait!
Old, Bald and Irish- March 2, 2008 at 1:54 am
I'm kinda surprised at the Serra hate. He really showed what he had as a vetrean of the sport on the UFC reality show. If I could ever hand pick my coach, it would be Matt Serra....no question about it. The guy has heart, guts, and skill.

Personally, I think GSP is the fan fav right now and people are gonna make Serra the villian. Some may think he's cocky, but I think he's an East Coast guy who can walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk....

....so fuck 'em.
Noah- March 2, 2008 at 1:49 am
Nice! You know, I will be rooting for GSP when he and Matt face each other. But I gotta say, Matt seems like a cool guy. Maybe some Hughes nut-huggers will bash me for it, but screw it, I think Serra has a good personality for the sport.

That being said, I've been very impressed with GSP since he first fought Matt Hughes. Granted, GSP lost that fight but it was only because he over-commited to a kimura. Not to say Hughes would have lost the fight otherwise, but GSP had some solid stand up before he was submitted. After that fight, Georges went on a tear, he destroyed Mayhem, Roid boy, and Twinkle toes on his way to obliterating Hughes. I know he fought Penn in that stretch as well, but it wasn't domination (credit to Penn.) Aside from his loss to Serra, GSP has been top-notch for a long time, and he's got a lot of years of fighting left in him.

Sorry about the history lesson, but I can't help but root for GSP, he's one hell of a fighter. Finally, a Canadian I can root for!
rheindog- March 2, 2008 at 1:42 am
i meant that he hasn't beaten anyone lately, not in his career as a whole.
rheindog- March 2, 2008 at 1:41 am
lol, is cagepotato based in nyc? I think people generally don't like serra b/c he really hasn't beat anyone noteworthy other than the flash ko of gsp, and he was real cocky about it... So i think he will get alot more fans if the next fight is a war win/lose... or if he wins again, especially in canada.
Ben Fowlkes- March 2, 2008 at 1:40 am
As a fellow New Yorker who has eaten many a late night/early morning chicken and cheese roll on the walk home from the N train, I totally relate to this post. Then again, Serra's from Long Island. Whole different ball game.

And I agree with the above post. This is one of many reasons why I love this site.
Kim Couture is a cunt- March 2, 2008 at 1:34 am
Very funny, I like the crackhead reference, and yea this is a different guy from the one above, but I still don't like kim couture.
Kim Couture is a cunt- March 2, 2008 at 1:31 am
This is the best MMA website around for one reason, blog's like this. Great read, laughed my ass off!
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