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2015 Bloody Elbow MMA Scouting Report #5 Featherweight: Nikolas Motta

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Our #5 Featherweight prospect is an offensive prodigy from the famed Brazilian camp Nova Uniao.

The Featherweight list is underway and it might very well be the most prospect rich division in the entire sport. Together Zane and I  scouted around 130 fighters and narrowed it down to around 30 outstanding prospects. From them we selected out our Top 10 prospects, the rest will be covered in two EXTRA pieces.

So let's continue on with the list!

#5 - Nikolas Motta

Record: 6-1 Height: 5'6" Age: 21 Years Pro: 2.6

Country: Brazil Team: Nova Uniao Base: MMA

Motta is from Governador Valadares, in the State of Minas Gerais, with is about a day's drive north of Rio de Janeiro. He started fighting professionally as a teenager with the Brazilian powerhouse camp Nova Uniao. As a result, Motta has spent time in Shooto Brazil, one of the country's largest MMA promotions, which has connections to Nova Uniao.  He has a record full of cans expected of Brazilian prospects but he still has the flashes of brilliance you look for in a prospect fighting over-matched competition. Prior to his MMA training, Motta competed regularly in Muay Thai bouts as a teenager.

Strengths

T.P. Grant: Motta brings the violence in the cage with a classically aggressive Brazilian Muay Thai style. He slings hooks in close which, while wild, are also surprisingly accurate. Motta packs power into those punches that is above his weight. He is at his best moving forward and stalking his prey, but is able to strike off his backfoot as well. He has the low kicks one would expect of a Nova Uniao fighter, but they are not as central to his current striking game. He does make good use of a nasty high kick Motta throws even at close quarters.

Motta is a little raw in the clinch but is serviceable. He is a solid wrestler for the Brazilian regional circuit, which means it is likely a bit below average in the bigger picture. While aggressive, Motta is not unthinking and is fairly good about keeping himself out of unfavorable spots.

Zane Simon: Motta really represents what we're seeing a lot in the new classes of top prospects. A lot of strikers with otherwise well rounded and developing games. Fighters like Brandon Thatch, Paul Felder, Cody Garbrandt, guys who can command the striking part of the fight. Motta looks to have the technical tools on his feet to do that. He strikes in volume and kicks with a ton of power. When he actually focuses on it, he has a pretty great clinch offense too, and is really adept at hitting strikes off the break.

Added to all that, he works comfortably out of either a left or right hand lead, throwing with good technique and balance from either side. While his offensive wrestling and grappling are both somewhat up in the air, his defensive wrestling appears to be strong, making him particularly adept for his kickboxing style.

Points of Development

T.P. Grant: Motta gets hit a lot. He doesn't move his head very much, doesn't really employ much in the way of angles on offense, and when he is under attack he retreats in straight lines. To halt opponent offensives Motta mostly relies on toughness and firing back. His ground game is something of an unknown, but he very purposely avoids fighting on the ground. His lone career loss at this point is a rather classic "prospect submission" loss. Motta was beating more experienced Chute Boxe submission ace Claudio Marcelino but was caught in a guillotine. So while we shouldn't take too much from that loss, it might speak to a lack of ground game on Motta's part.

Zane Simon: Beyond the big obvious points of wrestling and grappling, Motta has a little trouble switching between range striking and clinch offense. He throws knees well inside and can strike inside well, but it takes his opponent really engaging him there to get him going. It's not yet something he does naturally, on his own. Beyond that, Motta is good at moving in and out of range, but doesn't yet have the nuanced defense that a rhythm striker like him really needs at the highest level. Better head  movement and more complex footwork are both points for him to focus on.

Overall Projection

Motta's aggression and sense for the finish makes him stand out as a striker to watch. Motta's is reminiscent of a Nova Uniao teammate in Johnny Eduardo. Motta likely will need some time before getting into the UFC or Bellator to refine his defense and wrestling, and hopefully get more comfortable with ground fighting. Being in Nova Uniao is a pretty big advantage in terms of getting a chance from bigger promotions, so expect Motta to get picked up in the next year or two. If he continues to grow Motta could end up being a high level striker similar to a Donald Cerrone, but with better hands and less guard play.


Stay tuned for the #4 Featherweight coming soon! And to look up other articles in this series check out the table below. For comments, questions, or suggestions head down to the comment line or reach out to T.P. and Zane on Twitter: @TP_Grant and @TheZaneSimon

2015 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report

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