Navaho fighter wins UFC women’s flyweight title
LOS ANGELES – Navaho fighter, Nicco Montano, the 14th seed on The Ultimate Fighter 26 tournament, became the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion last Wednesday, defeating her hero, veteran Roxanne Modafferi in a unanimous decision.
“I love Roxanne, she’s been an inspiration since before I even started fighting, and to share this experience with her was awesome,” said Montano (4-2), fighting out of Albuquerque.
Modafferi used her experience in the first round to set the pace. But as the fight wore on, Montano began landing the cleaner and harder shots, also scoring with takedowns against Modafferi who is known for her jiu-jitsu skills.
“I feel amazing, I’m so lost for words right now,” Montano told MMA News Magazine. “I can’t thank my coaches enough right now.”
Gracious in her loss Madafferi gave kudos to Montano, saying, “Nico’s awesome, she’s so talented, I can’t say enough about her, I gave it my all and I was in shape.”
I wasn’t revealed until following the fight, but Montano nearly backed out of the fight, admitting to a broken foot she sustained in an earlier bout.
“Yesterday, my heel was coming off the ground,” she said. “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to fight, but you’ve got to have heart and discipline if you’re a fighter. You’re going to get hurt.”
Although Montano was raised by her mother and mother’s side of the family in Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation in the U.S., she still kept an estranged and sometimes tense relationship with her father, Frankie Montano, a boxer turned boxing coach and promoter who spent just about every waking moment at that gym. Nicco didn’t necessarily resent it; she just didn’t get it, she told Cagecult magazine.
It certainly never occurred to her that she would one day become a champion.
In fact it wasn’t until after her father died in 2006, that Nicco started turning towards the MMA.
“When I did my first MMA fight, it was just like that’s when I really started to make that connection,” Montano said. “I didn’t even really think of myself as a fighter still, because I just took it as another tournament-style setting.
“Now that I’m falling deeper into it, I’m really finding that he’s part of my motivation.”
Looking ahead, Montano is expected to defend her new belt against Valentina Shevchenko.