Before his fight against Cameron VanCamp a little over a year ago, Nikolas Motta dropped a gold nugget of wisdom that drew a laugh from both of us, but that was tinged with a hint of seriousness from the man on the delivery side.
“I think now it feels like it's time to stop fighting with my balls and fight with my head and use my experience,” Motta said. “I have a friend that says that's the Brazilian curse.”
Motta went on to hold the curse in check, even within a fight that he won in less than four minutes, but in June, it reared its ugly head when he was stopped in the first round by Manuel Torres. It was a fight that kept fans rivered for as long as it lasted, but after having success with his combinations early, one rush too many landed him on the receiving end of the finishing blow.
“I wish there was three rounds at least, or even if I got knocked out, I wish I had the opportunity to go longer, because I was ready to fight five rounds and I worked so hard,” he said. “It sucks that it happened so soon in the fight. I made so many improvements during my camp, so many improvements in my whole game, in my jiu-jitsu, in my striking. So I had so much to show in that fight. Like I said, I was ready to fight five rounds and put on a war and that was crazy. I wasn't expecting that he would do something so smart because he switched to southpaw and he stepped to the side and he threw that elbow that I never expected.”
The loss dropped the Minas Gerais native to 1-2 in the UFC, and it’s a deceiving record because he’s an action fighter who always shows up to throw down, and if not for the flash knockouts against Torres and Jim Miller, it might be a different conversation heading into his Saturday meeting with Trey Ogden.
But the facts are the facts, and this weekend, Motta is feeling the pressure to get the job done at the same APEX in Las Vegas where he earned a UFC contract on season four of Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020.
“My coach said that they didn't see anything,” said Motta. “They didn't see what I have. I have so many other weapons that they didn't see, and I didn't have the opportunity to show. And it sucks a little bit. You think we're going to get to the UFC and you’re going to make big moves, but UFC is hard. And I think I didn't show anything yet and I have so much more to show.”
He plans on rectifying that against Ogden, also 1-2 in the UFC, by any means necessary.
“You know that the way that guy fights is really boring. The way Tre Ogden fights, I think he wants to fight to win, but he doesn't fight; he just wants to win the match.”
That’s not Motta’s M.O.
“I like to fight,” he said. “You know how Bobby Green says that? It's like the old school mentality. I like to fight and I don't like to just go for a match because some guys, they fight like it’s a match and they just want to win. Not me. I like to really fight and put on a show, and the way I fight, everyone likes to watch.”
At the very least, that attitude usually results in some job security, but with the competition for roster spots in the 155-pound weight class as brutal as ever, Motta knows that he needs to win, as well as entertain, to keep moving forward. And he feels that after being a ronin of sorts over the years, with head coach Ray Sefo, jiu-jitsu coach Jake Shields, and the rest of the Xtreme Couture crew in Vegas, he’s finally put together the winning combination he needs.
“On the east coast, I was living half of my life inside of my car,” he laughs. “But in Vegas, everything's close.”
Including the APEX, where he expects to end the year with his hand raised. Even if he has to show a different side of himself to do so. But don’t worry, he’ll still have that “Brazilian disease” ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“I think now it's at a point that I have to win the fight,” Motta said. “I have to do whatever I have to do to win and I have to be smart. But, for me, it's like my coach says, it's almost impossible for me to be boring. Even if I won by decision, I’m always going to be nice to watch because it's just the style I have.”
Don't miss a moment of UFC Fight Night: Allen vs Craig, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prelims start at 2pm ET/11am PT, while the main card kicks off at 5pm ET/2pm PT.