Nicco Montano Finishes Improbable Run to Become First Ever UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion

Nicco Montano defeated Roxanne Modafferi to become the new UFC women's flyweight champion

Nicco Montano wasn’t supposed to make it through “The Ultimate Fighter” season 26 tournament much less become the first ever UFC women’s flyweight champion but that’s exactly what she did after capping off her improbable run with a win over Roxanne Modafferi on Friday night.

Montano entered the tournament as the No. 14 overall seed, which made her chances of winning in the opening round rather ominous much less getting all the way to the final fight.

That’s exactly what she did, however, as Montano defeated Lauren Murphy, Montana Stewart, and former Invicta FC champion Barb Honchak before facing Modafferi to crown the champion in “The Ultimate Fighter” finale.

Montano had to battle through all five rounds to get past Modafferi, who was a very game opponent despite accepting the fight on just 24 hours notice after Sijara Eubanks was pulled from the card after ending up in the hospital following a disastrous weight cut.

Montano used an aggressive game plan through all 25 minutes to come after Modafferi with a barrage of strikes, throwing a heavy volume of punches while mixing in several takedowns as well.

Modafferi refused to go away and actually did a lot of damage when she put together her best combinations including a series of hard right hands midway through the fight that twisted Montano’s head with each shot landing on her jaw.

Still, the New Mexico based fighter pressed through the pain and continued to force Modafferi to stay on her back foot playing defense with Montano gunning for her during each and every round.

On the ground, Montano was relentless with her attacks and as time ticked away into the championship rounds it was clear she was the fresher fighter and while Modafferi definitely didn’t fade away, her activity lessened later in the fight.

As the final horn sounded, a bloodied and bruised Montano smiled and held her hands in the air, confident that she had done enough to earn the victory.

The judges agreed returning scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46, all in favor of Montano, who is now the first ever UFC women’s flyweight champion.

“I feel amazing. So lost for words right now,” Montano said while clutching onto her title. “I’m so happy I don’t know what else to say. I love Roxanne.

“She’s been an inspiration since before I even thought of fighting and to be sharing this experience with her. We were bunkmates on the show and I know how huge of a heart she has. I’m so happy.”

Montano may have been a relative unknown when “The Ultimate Fighter” started but everybody will know her name now as she becomes the fourth women’s champion in the UFC. She will definitely celebrate this victory tonight and then turn her attention to the growing list of contenders all beginning to line up to get the first crack at the new champion.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.
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