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[Interview] UFC 168: Matt Serra talks Weidman victory, Silva injury & respect

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UFC welterweight legend Matt “The Terra” Serra hasn’t fought professionally since Sept. 2010 at UFC 117. Since retiring over three years ago, Serra has continued his fighting legacy by training the next crop of young fighters to compete in the UFC. Serra’s most notable student is current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.

On Saturday night at UFC 168, Weidman, 29, defended his title for the first time when he defeated Anderson Silva via TKO in the second round, and in the process, remaining undefeated in his professional career. It was Weidman’s second win over Silva in the calendar year and it ended 2013 on an epic high note for the surging New York native. However, for Silva, the ending came at a much more agonizing cost, as the second round TKO was due to injury, when Silva’s leg broke in half during a kick attempt to Weidman’s shin in what was one of the most gruesome and stomach-churning moments in MMA’s 20 year history.

[READ: UFC 168 Results - Weidman retains belt in horrific scene]

“Why is it odd,” asked Serra when questioned by post-fight at UFC 168. “See, here’s the thing; of course you’d like to have a nice knockout or a nice submission, or a ref stoppage or something like that, but the fight game is like chess, and he [Weidman] made the right move.

“He made the right move. If Chris doesn’t lift that leg up and check it -- like Ray Longo showed him how to -- he’s eating that kick. And here’s the thing about a kick like that; the harder you throw it, the worse for wear you are,” said Serra.

Having competed professionally for over a decade, Serra has seen a life’s worth of MMA tragedy and triumph – himself, once shocking the MMA world when he knocked out Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title in 2007.

[VIDEO: UFC 168: Vitor Belfort talks Silva leg injury & upcoming title shot]

On Saturday night, Silva’s leg break, as far as Serra is concerned, was a consequence of preparation, not a footnote to tragedy. As unfortunate as the circumstances of the main event at UFC 168 were, Serra doesn’t think that should take away from Weidman’s historic accomplishment of defeating the arguable greatest fighter of all-time in back to back outings.

“So, Chris checks it – Anderson kicks like a mule – and he put himself out with it,” he stated matter-of-factly. “So, it is unfortunate, but it was the right move by Chris. I’m upset that Anderson got hurt, and that’s unfortunate. But at the same time, our guy did the right thing. “

When asked if he thinks “The Spider” will ever fight inside the Octagon, Serra makes it clear that he doesn’t want to speculate. As far as he is concerned, Anderson Silva is a legend and needn’t prove anything to anyone for the rest of his life.

“I really can’t even speculate,” said the 39-year-old when asked about a possible Silva return. “The thing was nasty, and I’m sure he’ll be laid up a while, but he is a legend. If he walks away today, nobody is gonna be like, ‘Oh, man, that guy coulda done something else,’ I mean, what else could the guy do? He’s just a phenomenal person.”

With Weidman’s second, and somewhat fluke-ish, win over Silva in the books, there will unquestionably be doubters that still remain. In their first meeting back in July, Weidman KO’d Silva in the second round after the Brazilian was seemingly clowning around during a violent exchange. Previously, Silva had made a career of baiting opponents into striking battles with his unorthodox, and sometimes flashy approach to striking. But on that summer night in the desert, the Curitiba native was in rare form with his flash, and a great majority of pundits saw Weidman’s victory as a direct consequence of his opponent’s carelessness, rather than well-timed technique.

Now, with the freakish outcome of UFC 168, Weidman is left battling once again with know-it-all critics. And, at least in this writer's opinion, the events of Saturday night are creating a fog of negativity at a time where praise and respect are in order -- a sentiment shared by the former UFC welterweight champion.

“They should respect him after this,” stated Serra when asked if, and when, people will finally start respecting the undefeated champion. “There’s always going to be naysayers. One thing I told Chris after he won was, ‘Dude, the more success you have, the more people are going to be saying this or that about you. So, don’t try to please everybody.”

Words to live by for any human being, not just undefeated champions.


Listen to National MMA Examiner Ryan McKinnell's weekly podcast with Danny Acosta (USA Today Sports, Sirius Satellite Radio), Majority Draw Radio: The Precision of Indecision

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