Imagine you’re Matt “The Terror” Serra. You’re a 5’6″ pro fighter from Long Island. You aren’t particularly good-looking or charismatic. Your nickname only works if someone says it with the same thick accent that you have. The Terra.
You scratch and claw your way through an MMA career, but can’t catch a break until you go on reality TV to fight other guys who have been deemed washed-up by their employer. But so what. You win it all anyway. Then the organization puts you up against their poster boy for a title fight that is generally agreed upon to be one of the biggest mismatches of the modern era. The oddsmakers have you as an 8-1 underdog in most places, and that’s considered conservative.
But so what. You win that too.
Now you’re the champion, even if everybody is waiting for your Buster Douglas moment to be over. You injure your back in training and have to sit out a few more months before your first title defense. The jokers on the internet have a field day. And when you get word that your big night is finally coming, your chance to show that you’re not a one-hit wonder, they put you in for a rematch with the man you took the title from. And oh yeah, the fight’s in Montreal, his backyard. Otherwise known as “hostile territory.” Otherwise known as the organization stacking every card it can find against you.
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe Serra doesn’t care where he fights Georges St. Pierre for their welterweight championship rematch. Even if he does care, I doubt he’d admit to it. But me, I wouldn’t exactly feel like my employer had a great deal of faith in me, nor would I feel like they wanted to see me come out on top.
It’s been a rough road for Serra. Whatever you think of him, you’ve got to admit that the guy is tenacious. You can’t say he’s caught too many easy breaks in his career. He’s undersized and underestimated in just about every fight he enters. And yet the guy delivers. Call his win over St. Pierre a fluke if you like, but he’s the one with the belt around his waist.
Now he’s being asked to turn around and do it again, and in St. Pierre’s home country, no less. And despite his shocking upset the last time out, there can be little question that he will once again be the underdog. It’s enough to make me really want to get behind Serra.
And yet…I can’t. It’s damn near impossible to pick against St. Pierre here, and the fact that the UFC scheduled this fight for their Montreal debut suggests that they’re expecting (hoping for?) a hometown coronation. A lifetime of action movies have taught me never to doubt a plucky underdog like Serra who’s facing seemingly insurmountable odds, but this isn’t a movie. This is real life, and in real life the guy with the natural advantages usually wins.
That guy is St. Pierre, and as much as a feel-good story that another Serra victory might be, it probably just isn’t in the cards. This is one situation where I’d really like to be wrong, though.