Nicco Montano on UFC Release: “I’m in the Thicc of It,” and “Will Never Give Up on Me”

Nicco Montano UFC
Nicco Montano, UFC Vegas 33 weigh-in Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Former UFC flyweight champion Nicco Montano has reacted to her recent release by the promotion.

Montano (4-3), whose ascension to the top of the 125lb weight class was followed almost immediately by her downfall, took to social media to address being cut from the organization she had called home since 2017.

Down but never out… Seems to be the story of my career. But for better or for worse I’m in the thicc of it and MMA is how I started my personal growth and I will never give up on me,” she wrote in a post to her official Instagram account. “It has brought me the highest of highs and lowest of lows and if it ain’t that, am I really living..?”

“Thicc” of course is the current trendy way to refer to a larger woman, generally considered a compliment. And while Montano may be using the word playfully, her weight issues ended not just her title reign, but her career with the UFC.

Montano captured the inaugural women’s flyweight title after running the gauntlet on The Ultimate Fighter 26 in 2017, which introduced the division to the UFC. Defeating Lauren Murphy, Montana De La Rosa, and Barb Honchak, once considered the best female flyweight in the world, she landed in the finale opposite Sijara Eubanks. But when Eubanks was rendered unable to compete after experiencing kidney failure due to her own weight cut struggles, Montano instead faced pioneer Roxanne Modafferi.

The Arizona-born Montano won a five-round unanimous decision to claim the title. It proved to be her one and only UFC victory.

After being sidelined the better part of a year, Montano was scheduled to face Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228. She was forced to withdraw from the fight after being hospitalized due to weight cut complications. Montano would later be stripped of her title.

Multiple withdrawals from fights and a USADA suspension for ostarine (a common contaminant in athletic supplements) followed. When Montano finally did get back in the octagon, it was at bantamweight, a bout where she was decisively defeated by Julianna Pena.

That 2019 match-up proved to be the final fight of Montano’s UFC career. More withdrawals, a bout with COVID-19, and another mishap at the scales ahead of last weekend’s UFC Vegas 33, where she came in 7lbs heavy for a bantamweight fight against Wu Yanan, ended her Ultimate Fighting Championship run.