TUF 26 Winner Nicco Montano First Native American UFC Champion

You never know when you will make history. When Nicco Montano (4-2) began fighting, she never knew she would be the first at anything just another dreamer looking to make an impact in the brutal world of mixed martial arts.

But as a fighter of Navajo descent, and recent winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 26: A New World Champion, Montano has become a barrier-breaker by becoming the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion. Montano was raised by her mother and mothers side of the family in Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation in the United States. 

The Ultimate Fighter on Twitter

The champ, in her own words! #TUFFinale

Native families are matriarchal in their familial hierarchy, which can somewhat explain the confidence Montano possessed to become a champion first in the King of the Cage promotion series and now the UFC. Montano’s father, Frankie Montano, was a local boxing legend in Farmington, New Mexico. Although he didnt visit often, their encounters always occurred at his gym. The former boxer turned boxing coach and promoter spent most of his time at the gym and his daughter conformed to her father’s obsession.

I never wanted to go, Nicco told MMA Fighting. That was his life and I didnt really understand too much of him. Him and my mom didnt have a great relationship. The stories I have are obviously biased. Whenever I remember him, it was just always about his boxing gym, all about his fighting, all about making me a fighter.

Montano, 28, has bounced around the southwestern portion of the United States. She grew up on the Arizona portion of Navajo Nation (her mother is half Navajo and half Chickasaw), went to Arizona State University, came back home to the reservation, then off to Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. 

Navajo Tweets on Twitter

PRESIDENT BEGAYE SAYS UFC CHAMPION MONTAO IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF WHAT OUR WOMEN WARRIORS CAN ACCOMPLISH LUKACHUKAI-The town of Lukachukai welcomed home one its own when newly belted UFC Flyweight Champion @NiccoMontano came back for a celebratory parade on Sunday, Dec. 3.

About 2-1/2 years ago, with an eye on making a career out of MMA, Montano moved to Albuquerque, N.M., to train at Fit NHB with the likes of UFC fighter Tim Means and others. She went 5-0 as an amateur, but only 3-2 on the pro level, despite winning the King of the Cage womens flyweight title last year. In her most recent fight, Montano lost to Julia Avila in the main event of a regional show in Oklahoma City back in January.

Everyone thinks Im this fighter, Montano said to MMAFighting. Im like, Im not. I dont even like fighting. What are you talking about?

Julia Avila vs Nicco Montano

Women’s MMA Bantamweight Title Fight HD MMA 7 January 7, 2017 Remington Park, Oklahoma City

She’s since found her inner-warrior and wow, Montano is The Ultimate Fighter 26 season winner and UFC flyweight champion. On the men’s side, her weight class boasts the UFC’s pound-for-pound king, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who boasts the most title defenses in UFC history. When Montano defeated MMA veteran Roxanne Modafferi she set off on a path blazed by Ronda Rousey, Gina Carano, and all the other champions before her in an exploding women’s MMA industry.

Montano not only had to fight four times in the past six months to become the new UFC women’s flyweight champion, but she also won the title while dealing with a severely broken foot. She suffered the injury just after she returned home from the reality show.

In a world where two-time boxing Olympic gold medalist, Guillermo Rigondeaux quit on his stool in the biggest fight of his life against Vasiliy Lomachenko this weekend, Montano fought despite a broken foot to win the unanimous decision victory over Modafferi.

According to several reports, she endured the injury throughout her entire training camp, which forced her to give up running one of the primary ways she cuts weight and it even cut down on her strength and conditioning because she couldn’t put any weight on the foot for several weeks. Due to the severity of her injury, Montano is actually already in the process of scheduling surgery on her left foot to get the damage repaired.

After defeating Lauren Murphy, Montana Stewart, and former Invicta FC champion Barb Honchak over a six week period in the Ultimate Fighter season 26, and then winning the finale, Nicco Montano is one to watch and to be celebrated as an unlikely champion.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. RhettĀ hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.