It might be just me, but every time I see or even hear Matt Serra on camera, I expect him to have a trio of deli meats clenched in one fist and a bottle of Patron in the other. He exudes the Long Island Italian meathead stereotype more than any other professional fighter out there, and although I normally despise those people, I can’t help but laugh when he launches into his shtick. It’s kind of like how if you were to take Sofia Vergara’s voice and implant it into anyone else but her, the results would be gratingly annoying rather than hilarious and enthralling.
Whether you agree or not with the above statement will likely impact your excitement to learn that “The Terra” recently…hosted (?) a video blog for the UFC called Fight Camp Insider. And wouldn’t you know it, Serra managed to not only snag fellow wordsmith Chael Sonnen for an interview, he ended up spending the whole day with him. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
After a brief chat with Ray Longo and an assessment of how fat he’s gotten (answer: kind of), Serra embarks on a journey to a previously uncharted land known as Oregon to take a tour of Team Quest’s longtime training facility. And after a discussion of Sonnen’s pizzeria, its negative impact on his weight cut, and another fatness assessment (seriously, this episode is veering towards King of Queens territory in a hurry), Serra finally gets down to business. That business, is comparing Matt Longo’s attractiveness to that of Marlon Brando.
Simply put, these are the kind of interviews I live for. I don’t want to hear about how training camps are going, and what some guy’s gameplan is for his upcoming fight. That nonsense is whitewash at this point. We already know what everyone’s going say, even when it’s someone like Chael. I want to hear two men talk about pizza and The Godfather with metrosexual undertones. And on this front, Serra delivers in spades.
At this point, Serra is in need of slice, preferably topped with some nice gabagool, and heads over to Sonnen’s joint, known to the general public as Mean Street Pizzeria. He alludes that he is not unlike a ninja turtle in that he has an insatiable appetite for martial arts and pizza pie, which is perhaps the most accurate life assessment we have ever had the privilege of witnessing. No joke: a couple college buddies of mine from Long Island ran into Serra at a Chipotle in Huntington, where he proceeded to tell them that he once consumed a three man 36” pizza challenge by himself just down the street and stayed for cannolis afterward. All we’re saying is that Serra is less of a mixed martial artist and more of an ass-kicking philosopher. Like Kung Fu Panda.
He orders a straight slice of cheese to start. Fat joke. Martial arts. Consume pizza. The cycle repeats.
At eight and a half minutes in, Serra meets up with Chael at his place in the outskirts of town. “It’s in a nice neighborhood,” Serra remarks. You think that’s impressive? Tito Ortiz bought his own neighborhood. But what Tito Ortiz didn’t have, or at least failed to show us, was the awesome Whack-a-Mole style training device designed by Nexersys that Sonnen keeps in his house. You’ll have to see it for yourself, but it’s basically Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero for mixed martial arts fighters, and it just shot to the top of our wish lists. “If you could get this to hold a coffee, it would be Longo,” Serra jokes.
Sonnen also recounts his WEC 36 fight with Paulo Filho in which Filho both failed to make weight (changing the fight to a non-title bout in the process), and was apparently haunted by the ghosts of Xanax’s past. The good news: Filho ended up sending Sonnen the belt after he won the fight. The bad: The rest of Filho’s career.
After the tour, the crew heads back to Sonnen’s stomping grounds, where they come upon Yushin Okami mid-sparring, likely for his upcoming bout with Rousimar Palhares. Though at the time this was filmed, we imagine Okami was still expecting to face Luiz Cane, being that he is not attempting to free his ankle from a bench vice.
But even better than the pizza, even better than Okami, is the entrance of Mama Sonnen at the 12:52 mark. And believe it or not, she still holds Chael’s mouthpiece in between rounds, like a true mother should. Things conclude with an intense sparring session for Sonnen, who gets put through the ringer of Team Quest products before bidding Serra adieu.
I think it’s safe to say that Serra has found his future calling in the MMA biz. Half fighter interviews, half Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Matter of fact, if Serra threw on a spiky blonde wig, a pair of backwards sunglasses, and a few more sweatbands, he could pass as Guy Fieri’s body double without anyone knowing the difference.