Jim Miller, the record-holder for most bouts in UFC history, will return to take on the young phenom from Brazil, Nikolas Motta. Their match will take place at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs. Spann on September 18 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
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A veteran of 37 UFC fights, Miller has long been sharpening a well-rounded toolset. He is known as one of the most idolized fighters among fighters, often finding himself opposite young talent who cite him as some of their inspiration. Over the years Miller has built up an impressive resume, fighting the who’s who of mixed martial arts, including wins over current UFC champion Charles Oliveira and former Pride champion Takanori Gomi. However, recently Miller has dropped two losses in the UFC lightweight division and looks to bounce back on Saturday.
Nikolas Motta, at just 28 years old, has already amassed quite an impressive career. At 12-3, Motta held the CFFC belt, had a stint on The Ultimate Fighter and won a contract in the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series. It would seem he has a bright future in the UFC octagon, but Miller will serve as a big step up in competition and an important test for the prospect.
Miller vs. Motta betting odds
Both fighters come in at -115, to the oddsmakers it will be a pick’em fight.
- Jim Miller: -115
- Nikolas Motta: -115
Miller vs. Motta breakdown
Jim Miller, who is a veteran of 49 fights, has developed such a well-rounded game that the tools he comes in most comfortable with are usually dictated by the camp and game plan. Overall he isn’t necessarily known for throwing particular strikes but rather known for his textbook and always solid skillset. For example, he was extremely close to taking Dustin Porier out with leg kicks, a weapon that never really materialized the same way in later fights, chosen because he believed it to be the correct game plan for Porier specifically.
However, one thing we do see from Miller a lot is sometimes a slight reach disadvantage in the lightweight division. This leads to Miller’s preferred approach to bridging the distance, a flurry of strikes straight forward. The important thing is that they don’t always land but to offer him an opportunity to clinch up and look for a trip or clinch takedown. Occasionally he has charged in for the clinch without the strikes and has been close to paying so he should look to set it up behind his punches.
On the mat, Miller is a high-level black belt with tremendous belief in his submissions. He is the kind of fighter who takes advantage of any moment of complacency and can find some sort of choke or lock from anywhere, but he by far excels in top control. Especially against more credentialled grapplers than he, Miller forces his opponents to the cage so as to stack them and negate any kind of scrambles. If his opponents overcompensate he is quick to snatch a guillotine, armbar or take the back in transition.
Over his last couple of losses, it has become more apparent that Miller’s game from the bottom may be the route to victory for his opponents. While he did well and won rounds on top, both Vinc Pichel and Joe Solecki managed to bully him on top, defend submissions and ride out the clock, accumulating consistent ground and pound. Miller, again is very confident in his submission game, which sometimes leaves him waiting too long for a chance to get back to his feet or sweep, choosing to instead attack kimuras or other locks from his back that aren’t always there.
Nikolas Motta does not utilize many tools, his approach is very hook and high kick heavy. He is light on his feet and keeps the fight moving, but his power and speed carry his strategy. It is very dangerous to step into Motta’s hook range where he cracks with vicious and fast power. Stepping into this range is to meet a flurry of hooks from both sides and it takes just one to start a sequence to the end.
Far from Miller’s submission-heavy bottom game, Motta is always looking to get back to his feet when he finds himself down. He has great takedown defense and never settles on his back when it doesn’t hold up, rather he is always posting and doing whatever he can to keep his hips elevated and moving. Most of the time this allows him to scramble to his feet, although he may give up his back in the process, a dangerous gamble against Miller.
Miller vs. Motta prediction
For Miller, I’m sure after his last two losses, he will be happy to meet someone not looking to takedown and smother him. I think that for Miller, the game plan should be to take Motta down and hunt the submission, and he will have to cater his striking game to this. Possibly a heavy low kick game can keep Miller a touch outside the pocket if he sets them up and he can stifle Motta’s lighter movement and power, and ultimately break down his takedown defence later in the fight. For Motta he needs to push forward and keep Miller on the defensive, putting Miller on the backfoot could alleviate the danger of the takedown somewhat, but it will also allow Motta to dictate the range and look for the power shot.
However, I think the former is more likely to happen. Miller will have to draw from his many years of experience to find the right entries, but I think he will eventually find his way onto the takedown and begin winning out the fight from there.
Prediction: Jim Miller to win via submission
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.