Serra can't wait for the hate

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Matt Serra, the UFC welterweight champion, prefers to dish out the punishment as opposed to taking it, but he can hardly wait to take a beating on April 19 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

From the fans, not his opponent.

Serra will meet Montreal native Georges St. Pierre in front of an expected full house at the Bell Centre -- the first time an Ultimate Fighting Championship will be staged in Canada.

And he's expecting a very hostile reception when he steps into the octagon against St. Pierre.

"Bring on the hate, man. Boo for me. That's great," Serra said yesterday. "I have a lot of friends, family, a lot of students, a lot of people who care for me, who love me. I can use some enemies."

Despite the fact that he upset St. Pierre last April 7, Serra, a Long Island, N.Y. native, still is considered the heavy underdog for the fight. Serra defeated St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight champion in a stunning upset, a technical knockout at 3:25 of the first round, which St. Pierre blamed on a personal issues. Despite that win, the Canadian, and not Serra, still is the heavy favourite.

"Anybody who saw the last fight, and they're not mentally challenged, know I was winning the exchanges (before the TKO). It was an upset yes, but in no way it was a fluke," Serra said. "But I think some people still believe that.

POSTER BOY

"George St. Pierre is like a real life John Claude Van Damme," Serra added. "And I don't mean he fights like Van Damme ... he's a better poster boy than I am. You had (UFC president) Dana White talking about him on Wheaties boxes. White calls me 'a unique individual.' I mean, I'll take it. But what the hell is that? What about my last fight?

"I'm coming into my own, everything is coming together at a right time, and I'm expecting big things," he said.

Like a victory on April 19.

Since defeating St. Pierre last April, Serra was supposed to meet Matt Hughes for the title but had to withdraw because of a herniated disc. And so, St. Pierre took on Hughes instead, and won on a submission, to earn the interim title. Not that he's looking past St. Pierre, but Serra is emphatic that he will eventually meet Hughes, win or loss in Montreal. He calls that potential matchup personal.

"That fight has to go down. I didn't give up six weeks of my life just for the hell of it," he said, adding that there definitely is some bad blood between the two.

"Matt is, without getting into it, genuinely not a good person. George has a good heart, but it's all business right now," he said.

Serra never thought he would be fighting for six figures, or that ultimate fighting would become so popular. He believes that it will continue to grow and surpass boxing as the most important combative sport on the planet.

"Only the hard-core fans knew of it before," he said. "Now (you see the logo) everywhere, from Starbucks to the local 7-11, and all over the world. I went to Manchester (England) and it was insane. I couldn't even go into the bathroom at the UFC event there, people were following meet into the bathroom. It was kind of creepy, but kind of cool. I felt like a little Beatle."


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