One of Europe’s top young lightweights, Mihail Nica was born in the Republic of Moldova but has spent the last few years living and training in Turin, Italy. Nica made his Bellator MMA debut at Bellator 176, where he submitted Samba Coulibaly with an anaconda choke in just 36 seconds a little more than a year ago. However, Brazilian Carlos Leal Miranda slowed his forward progress at Bellator 190 on Dec. 9, as he claimed a unanimous decision following a 15-minute battle between the two 155-pound hopefuls.
Nica, 27, can point to where he went wrong.
“I took a knee to the liver in the first round, and it took my breath,” Nica told Sherdog.com. “It blew my mind. Miranda was a tough opponent. He got me really well. I could only think about not taking another shot there. I had to change my whole game plan in order to protect my liver. Maybe I was too confident in myself, but the main reason I fought like I did was because of the liver shot. No excuses, though. He was the better man that night.”
Prior to his loss to Miranda, Nica was 8-0 with eight finishes. He plans to return to competition soon and remains clear about his future plans.
“Losing for the first time was painful, but I learned a lot from that defeat,” Nica said. “I will not make the same mistakes again. I want to take it step by step in 2018 and come back to victory. Don’t get me wrong, despite the fact that I want to get another win, I don’t want to fight bums; I want a real challenge. I want to face the best in the business in order to grow as a person and as a fighter. Fighting for Bellator is a great opportunity for me. They have the best fighters in the world under contract. It’s such an honor to be amongst them.”
Nica has grown accustomed to fighting often -- he fought five times in 2016 alone -- and while he does not yet have a return date, he admits he has a strong interest in competing at Bellator 203 on July 14 in Rome.
“I still have another three fights [on my contract] with Bellator,” he said. “I am eager to go back in the cage again and show my skills to the world. I heard that Bellator is going to Rome this year; it is a dream of mine to fight in the Eternal City, the home of the gladiators. The Moldavian community is very strong in Italy, especially in Rome. They will flood the arena. All their chants echoing while I am fighting? Man, that’s the dream. Give me anyone in the lightweight division, and I will show the world what a modern gladiator is like.”