On Saturday, Nikolas Motta and Jim Miller are finally set to face off in the UFC, five months after their originally scheduled date. The Brazilian is confident that a win over a “legend of the sport” will boost his name in the company.
Motta originally agreed to meet Drakkar Klose in April, but the UFC reached out hours later to ask if he’d be down to take on Miller at UFC Vegas 48. The former Cage Fury FC champion didn’t think twice about agreeing to the opportunity to stop another East Coast talent.
“I beat the best guys out there, the ones that weren’t in the UFC already,” Motta told MMA Fighting. “I beat Joe Solecki, who’s a UFC fighter now. I knocked out Cesar Balmaceda, the [CFFC] champion, in 54 seconds. It’s such a coincidence that now they’ve put me against another guy from the East Coast.
“Jim Miller, a legend of New Jersey, a Hall of Famer in New Jersey and soon to be Hall of Famer in the UFC as well. Once again I’ll prove that I’m the best.”
A veteran of 50 MMA fights, Miller has competed under the UFC banner since 2008 and has beaten the likes of Charles Oliveira, Gleison Tibau, Takanori Gomi, Joe Lauzon, Thiago Alves and Clay Guida. When he steps into the octagon to fight Motta, he will extend his record for the most UFC appearances to 39.
Confident in his abilities after winning four of his past five, Motta vows to “fight smart” against Miller on Saturday.
“I’ll fight the same way I always fight, trying to end it by knockout,” he said. “But I’m more experienced now, and I know I’m fighting an experienced guy, a man with the most fights in UFC history. I’ll bring the right strategy, the right game plan, and not fight emotive. Fight smart. I plan on winning this one well.”
Motta trained with former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at Rio de Janeiro’s Nova Uniao for this bout and said that dos Anjos, who was scheduled the card opposite Rafael Fiziev before having the match pushed back to UFC 272, was the perfect training partner since “he’s a southpaw grappler like Jim Miller.”
“Last year I trained two or three months to fight Jim Miller and studied his game,” Motta said. “And Nova Uniao was the best place to train to fight someone like Jim Miller, a jiu-jitsu guy. … Doing my camp with Rafael dos Anjos was great for my evolution.
“It couldn’t be better. It felt great to be in Brazil and train in the place where I grew up, Nova Uniao. I got to the UFC thanks to guys like ‘Dede’ [Andre Pederneiras] and team Nova Uniao because they gave me a solid foundation. I grew up surrounded by legends, and now I came back to the place I started as a new fighter.”
Beating Miller at UFC Vegas 48 could help Motta land another big fight next, but he won’t commit to saying a name just yet. However, he mentions Damir Hadzovic and Paddy Pimblett as ideal foes for different reasons.
“I’d like to fight Damir Hadzovic because we were going to fight in May and I had to pull out,” Motta said. “I feel very bad for pulling out even though I got injured. It’s stuck [in my throat]. Another guy I’d really like to fight is that Englishman, Paddy Pimblett. I don’t like him that much. He talks too much, and he has a lot of hype.”
Motta revealed the UFC once tried to book him versus Pimblett in London in 2021, but his coach advised him against the idea, opting to “wait to fight here in the United States.” In the end, the UFC pulled the plug on the London card.
“I wanted to go fight him in London and knock him out inside his hometown,” Motta said. “That would be beautiful. I’ve done that many times in the United States, knocking someone out in their hometown. It’s amazing.”