Matt Serra has claimed that he’s going to retire from cornering fighters after being left out in the cold by one of his long-time students Aljamain Sterling in his title fight bid against Petr Yan at UFC 259 on Saturday night.
Serra has cornered Sterling for years alongside his long-time friend Ray Longo, but on Saturday night the title contender opted to have Erick Nicksick in his corner instead of him, and it’s left the former welterweight champion feeling disrespected.
“Going forward, I think it’s better now to make an exit on a high note,” Serra said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast. “I always loved cornering, but what’s going on for the next fight? Is it me and Eric Nicksick doing rock-paper-scissors to see who gets in the corner? I have a family I don’t need to take. I mean, I will always be in this kid’s corner – just not physically. It’s not by my choice but by the choices that were made here. So I’m just going to retire altogether from the whole cornering thing.”
Serra went on to explain his thoughts on the matter in more detail.
“I got nothing against Eric Nicksick. We had him on the show, he’s a nice guy. It’s not his fault Aljo went there,” Serra said. “But it’s like, ‘Hey, man. You’re going to have this guy who you have been training with for three months and I’ve been with you for seven years? If that’s what you truly want, I understand. I see you bonding, that’s a cool thing. …
“But now this is no longer a thing of ours with me and Longo, and that’s cool. We did this with the intention of these guys reaching their goals. But at the same time, you can’t help but feel a little disrespected. We brought this kid from his first fight in the UFC. … Not going to lie, I was a little hurt. I love everybody involved. But you have to know when it’s time and when people make choices there’s consequences. It’s like I can understand no one saying anything because they don’t want to f**k this kid’s head up before the fight. I can understand that. But at the same time, I would’ve handled this differently if the shoe is in the other foot.”
Despite his feelings clearly having been hurt, Serra did stress that he still wishes Sterling all the best and believes he can remain the bantamweight champion for a long time to come.
“Aljo is a great guy, he’s a good human being, and he’s got a big heart. He helps out other teammates, he helps out the wrestlers in the wrestling club, and I believe he has the ability to hold on to the belt for a long time in a stacked division.
“I think he holds on to the belt and get better and better from here. People are not going to think about the time he took the knee and they questioned anything about him after some future fights because then they’re going to be like, ‘All right, this is what we’re dealing with.’ So I think the best has yet to come for Aljo. I think he’s going to defend it and there will be some epic wars to come. It’s going to be fun to watch.”