Before he was a contestant and then a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter”, before he wore the UFC welterweight championship around his waist, Matt “The Terror” Serra had to start somewhere. It just so happens that he started on one of the first MMA events in Jersey, and we have the video proof.
The Garv saw this gem posted on Nick Lembo’s twitter and decided to share it with the rest of us. The event was “BAMA (AKA Bayside Academy of Martial Arts) Fight Night”, and was held in April 1997. UFC Referee Big Dan Miragliotta was the ref for this match, and also was the promoter of the show, which was held in Elizabeth, NJ. Miragliotta was also rocking a sick mullet we should be grateful that he never grew it back. It was the first smoker-style, semi-legal MMA show in New Jersey. This fight does not appear on Matt’s pro-record since it technically would be an amateur fight as his opponent is wearing shinpads, which is common today in the amateur leagues. This fight was also contested as a “shoot-fight”, a term you rarely hear used these days, which may also account for the added protective gear (which also appears to be optional since Matt is not wearing shinpads).
For you history buffs, BAMA Fight Night lasted 20 shows, and held their final event in April, 2003. According to our good friend and walking MMA encyclopedia Jim Genia, the final event event saw Carmine Zocchi and Glenn Ortiz both win via heelhook while Judah Ciervo and Billy Craparo brawled practically to the death. According to a letter Miragliotta wrote to Full Contact Fighter back in 2003, he was forced to shut down the event due to rule changes instituted by the NJSAC that year, which deemed any MMA fight with striking to be professional (this rule no longer exists today), as well as all fighters being required to have a license to fight. The changes were implemented too close to the date of the event, forcing Miragliotta to shut down the event and sadly not return it. Many of the fights from BAMA were lost due to them either just not being recorded, the VHS master tapes falling apart, or people just not knowing how to transfer them to digital media.
Hit the jump to see Matt’s brother, Nick “The Mad Monkey” Serra, in his MMA debut!