Matt Serra is back with Xyience in a big way. In case you didn't know, he made it perfectly clear by donning a Xyience hat upon striding up to the microphone after his big UFC win against Frank Trigg at UFC 109 this past Saturday. I admit I must have overlooked Serra's signing a new contract with the company in May, 2009.
Ironically, Serra discusses the movie "Casino" and Xyience in this YouTube Clip:
I can't tell if the Xenergy can Matt is clutching is even open, and while he handles the can quite a bit he never actually drinks from it. We know from Ken Flo's old drinking from a closed Xenergy can clip that Xyience had this problem before. Yet in the past it was always explained away as an octagon deal due to a Nevada State Athletic Commission requirement that only water be consumed by competing fighters in the state. This time Serra is on a T.V. set and should have no qualms about taking a drink or two during the interview.
According to Wikipedia, Serra first got involved with the Xyience brand after winning the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter: "His win earned him a guaranteed title shot against Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship, as well as a $100,000 contract and $100,000 sponsorship with Xyience."
Serra was wrapped up in the scandal that led to Xyience's bankruptcy and the Fertitta Enterprises takeover, and his contract remained unpaid for a considerable amount of time before a settlement was reached. As part of the bankruptcy, complaints actually had to be filed by the trustee's office against some sponsored fighters Xyience (while owned by the Fertittas) settled with post-bankruptcy. Other creditors were technically supposed to be ahead of the fighters in line, though I doubt many would say it to their faces :), and seeing Serra back with the brand after enduring that debacle is very surprising.
It appears there may be a reason for Serra's incredible return. Actually there may be thousands of reasons. Beyond whatever Serra is getting paid to hawk the brand for Xyience, it appears there also may be some extra financial benefits of playing ball with the Fertittas and helping the brand recover its tainted image. Coming off a disappointing loss and facing a guy who is washed up at best, there is no reason Matt Serra should have made almost as much as "Captain America" Randy Couture's main event performance earned him. Yet, that's exactly what happened. Serra's $210,000 included a whopping $135,000 in bonus consideration.
I have been told by multiple witnesses familiar with Xyience and the UFC's past relationship that Xyience sponsored fighters would always tend to make more money per fight than those not sponsored by the company. The symbiotic relationship Xyience and the UFC had in the early days was very healthy. Both sides benefited tremendously from their association with each other. The branding of the best fighters in the company with Xyience sponsorships eventually resulted in a marriage that could not be easily dissolved. To this day many images of the league's best fighters feature Xyience logos displayed prominently in the picture. Rather than part ways and intensify the scandal, UFC brass devised an even more surreptitious plan for Xyience. They swept things under the rug and hoped nobody would notice by using Fertitta Enterprises to take over and then bankrupt the brand to start over.
The Fertittas are so far into this fiasco that they are now making it obvious, probably thinking they could never get caught. Not only did they pay Matt Serrra an obscene amount of bonus money, but they are also giving away Harley Davidson motorcycles now through a Xyience co-promotion. These are all conflict of interest and insider dealing games most businesses don't get away with when it's so obvious.
Matt Serra is not a stupid guy. He's definitely not wrapped up with Xyience for the free supplements and energy drinks. He'd at least be a bit more vocal about his favorite products if the partnership was based on the company's actual offerings. I've yet to see any evidence that he swears by any particular product Xyience makes. It seems pretty obvious the UFC brass probably made Serra a sweetheart deal to come back and start repairing some of the PR damage done to the brand over the years. I just wonder if Serra knows he's being used as a pawn for the Fertittas to prove to the world that the brand is back on its feet and all is forgiven.
On the contrary, the fight over Xyience is about to get even more contentious, and in the next few weeks the story will grow even wider. The entire direction of my own litigation against Xyience will be revolutionized soon, and a new phase of the case will begin. When the final details are hammered out, you'll read it here first. As always, stay tuned!