Travel restrictions forced the cancellation of several UFC bouts. But one fighter thinks they could open the door for new talent.
Cage Fury Fighting Championships lightweight champion Nikolas Motta is campaigning for a call-up as the company builds several cards for May. A Brazilian national who lives in New Jersey and has a green card, the 27-year-old fighter believes he’s poised to capitalize on a scramble for available talent.
“UFC is my plan and I’ve been working hard for years for that,” Motta told MMA Fighting. “We were hoping for a fight at Dana White’s Contender Series, but I don’t know if it will happen with the coronavirus situation. But I know they will do a lot of UFC events one after the other in May, and I have to keep training.”
The UFC officially announced shows for May 9, 13 and 16 in Florida. Other dates are planned for late May and early June.
“I’ll stay active and alert, since people can’t come from other countries to fight in the UFC for now, and many people won’t fight unless they have a full camp,” he said. “I heard that many people pulled out from fights because they couldn’t train properly due to the coronavirus, but I know I always have to be ready.”
Motta represented Rio de Janeiro’s Nova Uniao when he joined the cast of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 in 2015. Then a training partner to Jose Aldo and Renan Barao and 6-1 as a professional, Motta moved up to lightweight to be on the show and defeated Alexandre Cidade in his debut. But he lost to season winner Glaico Franca in a quarterfinal match.
“I still fought my heart out, was aggressive, trying to finish the fight the whole time, and that makes me confident that I deserve an opportunity in the UFC,” Motta said. “I know they love my fighting style. I go for the knockout, heart of a lion. I will never chicken out in a fight, I’ll always fight like I’m going to a war.”
Motta left Brazil to live in the United States and made a statement in his first appearance, knocking out future UFC prospect Joe Solecki. He was stopped by Robert Hale four months later, but bounced back in impressive fashion under the CFFC banner with a 54-second knockout followed by a title win.
“This is my time,” Motta said. “I can’t wait to be the new blood in the UFC and put a beating on whoever they throw at me. That’s exactly why I moved to the United States. I knew I would have better chances to fight in the UFC, Bellator and PFL, the biggest promotions in the world.
“I had to sacrifice a lot to start over in a new country and a new team, but I’ve earned my space here. I’m the champion of the biggest regional show in the United States, Cage Fury, and I’m very confident that I’ll have this opportunity. When my opportunity comes, brother, I’ll go for the finish and put on a show.
“I’m here to stay, and I want that $50,000 bonus. I’ll do like Conor [McGregor], ‘Dana, 50 G’s baby.’”