Killys Mota stopped previously unbeaten Mandel Nallo with leg kicks in his Bellator debut in Oct. 2019. A year later — and now fighting as a welterweight — the Brazilian talent believes he could already be two wins away from a title shot.
Mota built his 12-1 MMA record as a lightweight, with his only defeat coming in a LFA title bout in 2018. He usually needed a two-month camp to hit 155 pounds, feeling that a routine that included “starving” and “suffering” would have likely ended his career before he turned 35.
Moving up to welterweight proved to be “the best decision of my life,” the 30-year-old said in an interview with MMA Fighting, “because I felt like I was damaging my body.” Mota will take on Derek Anderson in the main card portion of Thursday’s Bellator 251 in Uncasville, CT, and didn’t think twice when offered the opportunity.
“When they told me his name I said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Mota said, “because I know that with a win over this guy and one more, I’m qualified to fight for the belt. That’s why I took it right away.”
Bellator’s welterweight class is dominated by fellow Brazilian 170-pounder Douglas Lima, who recently came up short in his attempt to become a two-division titleholder against Gegard Mousasi. There’s a long line of well-known athletes campaigning for a chance at the gold, reason why Mota has a few names in mind for a post-fight callout.
“There’s that Paul Daley guy, he’s badass,” Mota said. “Him and ‘MVP’ (Michael Page) are the most feared fighters in the division after Douglas Lima. I’ll fight any of them.
“I train with Glover Teixeira, who will fight (Thiago Santos) Saturday (in the UFC). I train with him and he always motivates me, tells me to believe in myself. He’s way heavier than me but says that I can train well with him because of my style, so I believe I can be among these guys and fighting them, easy.”
Anderson is part of the Bellator roster since 2013, defeating the likes of Patricky Freire (twice) and Saad Awad before moving up to welterweight in 2019. “The Barbaric” was scheduled to face both Daley and Page recently but both fights fell through.
Anderson has only been finished once as a professional MMA fighter, a second-round submission to Marcin Held in 2014. Mota believes he has what it takes to add his name to that short list, but envisions a 15-minute battle instead.
“I’ve studied his game and had some advice from Brazilians that fought him before,” Mota said. “Someone at that level, I have to fight smart and calm. I think it it’ll be a decision, or I’ll submit him on the ground. I don’t wanna get in a brawl with him because he’s a dangerous striker, so I wanna catch him on the ground. I believe in my striking, my hands and my kicks, but I believe it’s going to be a smart fight from both of us.”
“He defends really well with his jiu-jitsu,” he continued, “but everyone that beat him did it on the ground, taking him down and keeping him there. He’s a dangerous man. He’s a big name, a top-contender, but I believe in my game. I’ve won many fights doing things my way. He’ll also have to adapt to see holes in my game, and that’s when I’ll catch him.”