Matt Serra secured his place in mixed martial arts history at UFC 69 on April 7, 2007, when he authored perhaps the greatest upset of all-time, put away Georges St. Pierre with punches and captured the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title before a stunned crowd of 15,269 at the Toyota Center in Houston.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie, Serra made his MMA debut in 1998 and pieced together an up-and-down career that saw him compile an 11-7 record. He won Season 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series—he defeated Pete Spratt and Shonie Carter before edging Chris Lytle in the final—and went on to challenge St. Pierre for the welterweight crown in a classic David-versus-Goliath showdown. Serra climbed into the Octagon as a +850 underdog and needed a little more than three minutes to upend the heavily favored Canadian. He relinquished the championship to St. Pierre in their rematch a year later and went on to lose three of his last four fights before exiting the stage, the clock striking midnight on his Cinderella story. “The Terror” was inducted into the pioneer wing of the UFC Hall of Fame on July 5, 2018.
As Serra continues to impact the sport as a trainer, a look at some of the numbers that have come to define him:
46: Years of age. Matthew John Serra was born on June 2, 1974 in East Meadow, New York.
5: Wins by submission, accounting for nearly half of his career total. Serra earned two victories by armbar, one by rear-naked choke, one by guillotine choke and one by triangle choke.
4: Appearances outside the UFC. Serra went 4-0 and stopped all four of his opponents under the Vengeance at the Vanderbilt banner.
16: Guard passes executed in a unanimous decision over Ivan Menjivar at UFC 48 on June 19, 2004. It was a personal-best for Serra, who was awarded 30-27 marks by all three judges.
20: Significant strikes landed by Serra in his aforementioned upset of St. Pierre. “Rush” answered with just six of his own.
2: Knockout losses on his resume. Serra was famously victimized by a spinning backfist from Carter in his promotional debut at UFC 31 and succumbed to a sustained burst of knees to the body from St. Pierre in their UFC 83 rematch.
153: Significant strikes absorbed in his second encounter with Lytle, which resulted in a unanimous decision defeat at UFC 119. It was the only time in Serra’s career that he ate more than 56 such shots.
.500: Winning percentage in the UFC. Serra went 7-7 in his 14 appearances inside the Octagon.
3: Post-fight bonuses earned in UFC competition, resulting in $150,000 of additional income. Serra was awarded “Fight of the Night” once and “Knockout of the Night” twice.
220: Career victories between the seven men who defeated Serra. Those wins belong to St. Pierre (26), Lytle (31), Carter (51), Matt Hughes (45), Karo Parisyan (24), Din Thomas (27) and B.J. Penn (16).