Las Vegas, April 22: The UFC have announced that former UFC welterweight champion and winner of season four of The Ultimate Fighter, Matt Serra, has been named to the UFC Hall of Fame class of 2018 as a Pioneer.
Serra is the first UFC athlete to win a The Ultimate Fighter and later become a UFC champion and now enters the UFC Hall of Fame as the 15th member of the Pioneer Era wing.
The 2018 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 5, at Pearl Theatre inside the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The event will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS.
"Matt Serra is one of the most underrated mixed martial artists in UFC history," UFC President Dana White said.
"From winning the Ultimate Fighter, to becoming UFC welterweight champion with one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, and now coaching some of the sports top athletes, Matt's lifelong dedication to combat sports is legendary."
"Matt fought on the second UFC event under Zuffa ownership in 2001, and today, he helps us find new and exciting talent, while also co-hosting UFC Unfiltered. Serra is a true pioneer, and we look forward to celebrating his career at the UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in July."
The Pioneers Era category includes athletes who turned professional before November 17, 2000 (when the unified rules of mixed martial arts were adopted), are a minimum age of 35, or have been retired for one year or more.
"This is an honor to say the least," said Serra.
"I turned professional in 1999, during the dark ages when MMA was almost finished in the US. I didn't become a mixed martial artist because there was a ton of money and fame to be had - there was none back then."
"I began competing in MMA because I love the sport, and that took me all the way to the UFC championship, and, now the UFC Hall of Fame. I love the sport as much as I ever did, and I couldn't be happier or more honored right now."
A veteran of 18 professional fights during his 11-year career, Serra compiled a record of 11-7, which included wins over two-time UFC welterweight and UFC middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre, UFC Hall of Famer Frank Trigg and UFC veteran Chris Lytle.
Serra debuted in UFC on Friday, May 4, 2001 at UFC 31: LOCKED AND LOADED at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He would lose his UFC debut, but win four of his next seven bouts before joining season four of The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback.
During the series, he defeated welterweights Pete Spratt and Shonie Carter to advance to the finale against veteran Chris Lytle. Serra defeated Lytle via split decision in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback Finale to win the welterweight tournament and earn a title shot against UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69: SHOOTOUT.
Since retiring from professional competition in 2013, Serra, the first American to be awarded a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt from the legendary Renzo Gracie, has continued to contribute to the sport of MMA as a coach, with two Serra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy locations in Huntington and Levittown, New York.
Serra has also formed the Serra - Longo Competition Team, with longtime coach Ray Longo, which includes a roster of young New York / New Jersey-based MMA athletes, such as former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, UFC lightweight Al Iaquinta, UFC light heavyweight Gian Villante and UFC bantamweight Aljamain Sterling.
Outside of the gym, Serra also spends time as an MMA analyst on UFC Unfiltered and co-stars on the UFC series 'Dana White: Lookin' For a Fight'.
The remaining inductees of the UFC Hall of Fame class of 2018 will be announced in the coming weeks leading to the 7th Annual UFC International Fight Week, which takes place from Tuesday, July 3 through Saturday, July 7 in Las Vegas.
Source: UFC Press Release