Veteran welterweights Serra, Trigg talk a good game going into clash at UFC 109

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LAS VEGAS - Leaning against a wall, a toque pulled down on his head and turquoise nail polish on his toes, a lean-looking Frank Trigg seems so relaxed it's a wonder he hasn't fallen asleep.
Inside a nearby workout room in the bowels of the Mandalay Bay Events Center, pint-sized opponent Matt Serra holds court, entertaining reporters with a string of one-liners.
The two veteran welterweights exude calm going into their fight Saturday night at UFC 109. But their banter has helped sell the mixed martial arts card (available on pay-per-view), delivering a stream of good-natured trash talk going into their matchup.
Serra, 35, is a five-foot-six ball of energy, a former champion who seems on a perpetual sugar high. Phone his cell and you'll have to listen to a blast of the Beastie Boys before he picks up. He has fought just twice since shocking Georges St-Pierre to win the 170-pound title at UFC 69 in April 2007, losing a rematch to GSP at UFC 83 and then a close decision to former title-holder Matt Hughes at UFC 98.
Trigg, 37, is a fast-talking self-promoter with a sly smile, on his second go-round in the UFC. Released after losing to St-Pierre at UFC 54 in August 2005, he continued fighting on smaller circuits and maintained his profile in the sport by doing TV commentary and using social networking to offer up Trigg talk on almost every subject under the sun.
He lost to Josh Koscheck in his return to the UFC, knocked out in 85 seconds at UFC 103.
While both fighters are in the twilight of their career, it's an intriguing matchup on personality alone. Bookies have made Serra a slight favourite.
"It's easy to get motivated when you fight a guy like Frank Trigg," said Serra. "Say you're fighting a guy like Chris Lytle. That guy's a solid guy. You have to be prepared because he's a skilled guy but what are you going to say about the guy - father of four, firefighter.
"Frank Trigg? Come on. Do I have to say anything else? The nail polish, the tramp stamp (tattoo on his back). It is what it is. He's got that arrogance about him where it's like 'Man, that's the type of guy where in the past, I'd just like to smack that guy.' Now I'm going to get paid to. It works out perfectly."
Serra (16-6) has branded Trigg as a "low-level professional wrestler" villain.
"Almost like Thunderlips from 'Rocky' but he's not that big," Serra said, referring to the pro wrestler character played by Hulk Hogan in "Rocky 2" before ad-libbing: "And me, I'm like Rocky with Omoplatas (shoulder submissions)."
Trigg (19-7) has dubbed Serra an "angry midget" and "short Guido" in the leadup to the fight.
None of it seems personal, though.
"We're real good trash-talkers, but that's part of the game," said Trigg. "That's part of what we do ... of course, trash-talking takes your mind off the pain and soreness of the (training) day too."
Both men are serious about Saturday night. Serra sent his wife and baby daughter to his in-laws during training camp so he could focus on Trigg. He has more fights left on his contact and enjoys both fighting and the platform it gives him in his other life as the owner of two gyms in Long Island, N.Y. (he's about to move one into a bigger 8,300-square-foot space).
"I don't really have some kind of five-year plan or anything," he said. "I go with my gut and how I feel and I've still go the desire to fight."
Serra says he treats every bout like it could be last, savouring every moment.
"I'm prepared for a war," he said. "He's got his back against the wall, but I think that puts a lot of pressure on him. Sometimes when there's a lot of pressure on you, you might just want to try and get that W and you don't pull the trigger.
"I'm a cool dude in a loose mood, man. I'm chilling. I feel relaxed, I'm going to feel relaxed in there and I'm going to pull the trigger, I'm going to take risks. So I think that's going to make a big difference in this fight."
Trigg could be in transition depending on the fight's outcome. A loss could mean another UFC release and he has decided that he will not return to the minors.
"If it's over for me here, then it's over for me, that's just the way it is," he said. "I'm moving to (TV) commentating, that's just what's going to happen to me. I've made the decision and that really took a lot of pressure off."
Still, Trigg admits to nerves every time he walks towards the cage. He likes to calm himself down before the opening bell by looking at press row, trying to identify the reporters until it's time to fight.
Trigg's background is wrestling. Serra is a jiu-jitsu black belt with a big punch. He tagged St-Pierre with one and that won him the title.
"He's tough," said Trigg. "He's kind of a weird anomaly. He's a jiu-jitsu guy but he knows how to punch."
Trigg has changed up his training regimen to get ready for Serra and says he has been revitalized working out with new partners like Shane Roller, Jake Rosholt and Johny Hendricks. The other good news for Trigg is he is healthy. Eight weeks before the Koscheck bout, he injured his right knee in training.
"Hindsight, I probably should have had surgery right away but I didn't," he said.
The knee played a part in the fight. Trigg says he moved towards the cage, lost his footing and, worried about the knee, looked down. When he looked back up, Koscheck had moved. Trigg moved, but didn't keep his hands up.
"Next thing I see is a black dot, and that ends up being his right hand and that's the end of the fight and that's just how it goes."
No excuses, however.
"He was obviously better prepared for that fight than I was because he won. ... You move on and you move on to the next fighter."
Trigg says he won't make the same mistake twice. He plans to keep his eyes glued on Serra and has even consulted boxing star Floyd Mayweather Jr., a fellow Las Vegas resident, for tips.
"When he fights, his eyes are like saucers," Trigg noted.
"He has trained since he was a little kid to keep his opponent in front of him at all times. He can always find you."
Trigg had surgery after the Koscheck fight, wearing a stiff brace for three weeks and using crutches after that. He recalls the difficulty in trying to get his one-year-old up to bed each night.
"Literally I had to have him on one side and white-knuckle grip the railing to get up the stairs."
The knee has healed and Serra expects Trigg to be a handful come Saturday. All jokes aside, Serra knows more than anyone that anything can happen in a fight.
"Trigg's a very dangerous opponent, he's a veteran, he's got wins over a lot of tough guys," he said. "He got to the title twice (losing both shots) and I'm not taking him lightly at all. The last fight I had was fight of the night, I think this has the potential to be a way more exciting fight.
"I don't see this one going three rounds."

Organizations: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Beastie Boys

Geographic location: LAS VEGAS, Long Island, N.Y.

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