It’s been a long and tumultuous road to the UFC for Nikolas Motta, but he’s ready to capitalize on the moment.
Motta (12-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) had an early taste of the UFC when he took part in Season 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” in 2015, but he wasn’t able to walk away with a UFC deal.
After winning his opening bout, Motta was eliminated from the competition when he was submitted by Glaico Franca, and it took him five years to get back on the UFC’s radar. The former CFFC champion finally got another opportunity on Dana White’s Contender Series in November 2020 when he defeated Joseph Lowry to earn his UFC contract.
“When I was 18, fresh out of high school, I very badly wished to become a professional fighter,” Motta told MMA Junkie. “I moved to Rio de Janeiro from my hometown in the interior of the Minas Gerais state – Governador Valadares. I started training at Nova Uniao. At that time, they had the best light fighters in the world. They had world champions. Many of their athletes fought in Japan and in promotions around the world, all from such a small training space. It was a dream come true for me. I won my last three fights. And I did a lot of learning from my past experiences. There have been some highs and lows. It wasn’t easy. I had to learn my lessons.
“It took 10 years for me to get into the UFC. I went through ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ I went through Contender Series. I dedicated myself for a decade. I made sacrifices. I lived in multiple homes. I slept in basements. It was hard. I know that many people would have given up by now. But I did everything in my power to stay out of my comfort zone and earn my way into the UFC. I arrived in Rio when I was 18. There, I fought in the biggest promotions – Shooto Brazil, WOCS, and Bitetti. I was in ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ when I was 21. I was very young and inexperienced. I didn’t make it through. At age 24, I started from zero again. I moved to the U.S. and made my name in regional events. I became the Cage Fury champion. And by age 27, I punched my ticket into the UFC.”
However, his turbulent road wouldn’t stop there. Motta would see his octagon debut get delayed after he was forced to withdraw from his bout against Damir Hadzovic in May due to injury. Four months later, the Brazilian drew a big name in veteran Jim Miller, but after Miller tested positive for COVID-19, Motta will now face fellow newcomer Cameron VanCamp (15-5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 192.
“I’m doing everything I can in my UFC debut,” Motta said. “It’s kill or be killed. Only I know everything I went through to get here. Now is my time. It’s been 10 f*cking years. There’s no way in hell I’m losing.”
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