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A Question of Staying Power for Nikolas Motta


It took two tries for Nikolas Motta to find a place in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Now that he has arrived, the jury remains out on whether or not he can make it a permanent home.

Motta will look to improve upon a 1-2 record inside the Octagon when he meets Trey Ogden as part of the UFC Fight Night 232 undercard this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The 30-year-old former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder wants to establish a more secure foothold in the cutthroat lightweight division so he can delve a little deeper into his long-pursued dream.

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“Ever since I left home at 18, I’ve been very focused on MMA,” Motta told Sherdog.com. “I dedicate my life to it. I’ve never had a Plan B. I’ve dedicated my entire life to making it happen, and I managed to get into the world’s biggest promotion.”

Motta made his first pass at the UFC in 2015, when he was cast on Season 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.” He ousted Alexandre Cidade in the elimination round, only to be victimized by a Glaico Franca rear-naked choke in the quarterfinals. The loss cost Motta, just 22 at the time, a shot at a UFC roster spot. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

“I was very young,” he said. “It was very hard on me when I didn’t get into the UFC. It was hard to deal with it. I had always been so focused and dedicated. It was very hard when it didn’t happen back then, but later I realized that I didn’t have enough experience. Today, I see that I’m a much more complete fighter. I’m much more comfortable.”

Motta finally punched his ticket to the UFC in November 2020 when he outpointed Joseph Lowry to a unanimous decision on Dana White’s Contender Series. He has since sandwiched losses to Jim Miller and Manuel Torres around a UFC Fight Night 210 technical knockout of Cameron VanCamp. Uneven performance has put Motta in a precarious position entering his confrontation with Ogden—a man who also holds a 1-2 record in the promotion.

“When people say that two fighters coming off losses in the UFC facing each other are fighting to keep their jobs, that bothers me a bit,” he said. “We’re not matchmakers who know what will happen. In the end, there’s some truth to it. I’ve seen so many fighters enter and exit the UFC quickly. I don’t want that to happen to me.”

A longtime member of the Andre Pederneiras-led Nova Uniao outfit, Motta now operates out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. The change in camps notwithstanding, he plans to greet Ogden with the same aggression he has displayed against previous opponents.

“Every time I fight, it’s to put on a show,” Motta said. “It’s to get a knockout or submission. I’m going to do it again. I’ll do everything in my power to win this fight. Losses happen, but I’ll never lose because I didn’t work my hardest and give everything I had. It’s in God’s hands.”
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