New Yorker Matt Serra is used to playing the bad guy. In Montreal at UFC 83, Serra had the difficult task of defending his welterweight belt against the man he won it from, hometown hero Georges St-Pierre. To say he was booed is an understatement. That record crowd of nearly 22,000 could have been the loudest in UFC history.
This Saturday in Indianapolis Serra finds himself the outsider once again, in a rematch with Chris Lytle in Lytle's backyard.
"Either you like me or you hate me," says Serra. "I've got that personality. I hear the boos, but if the fight were in my backyard he'd be getting booed too, and he's a really, really nice guy."
Serra first fought Lytle in the finals of Season 4 of "The Ultimate Fighter," where former UFC fighters were given a second chance. Serra eked out a split-decision victory against Lytle to earn a title shot against GSP. Serra shocked the world with a first-round knockout.
Neither Serra nor Lytle were impressed with their performances in that first fight, however.
"There was a lot at stake, and we were both really cautious," said Lytle. "It's not like either of us went in there and got beat," added Serra.
Indeed, with a return to the UFC and a title shot on the line, it was understandable why these gentlemen tiptoed around the Octagon. This Saturday, however, there's really nothing on the line for either fighter, so fans can expect some fireworks.
For Serra, that means letting loose with his patented overhand right that has taken out the likes of St-Pierre and Frank Trigg. For Lytle, it could mean surprising fans with a ground game that even his opponent says is underrated.
"He's shown he's very dangerous with submissions; his ground game has been underrated," Serra said, recalling how he rolled with Lytle during "The Ultimate Fighter."
While this bout won't mean all that much to either fighter's career, that doesn’t mean both men won’t want to erase the memories of their first fight. This is more of a personal battle and we may see a Fight of the Night out of the two.
"My goal is not just to beat Chris Lytle — I want to take him out," says Serra. "And I'm sure he wants to do the same to me. I'm sure that would be a perfect scenario for him. We're both tough, durable guys. We've only both been stopped a couple times in our career in the UFC, and he's only been stopped two times from cuts. Nobody ever made him tap. Nobody ever knocked him out. If either one of us could take each other out, that would definitely say something. So that's the goal."
Serra and Lytle face off at UFC 119 this Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
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