Nicco 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.
Montano won the belt this past weekend with a unanimous decision victory over Roxanne Modafferi in “The Ultimate Fighter” 26 Finale, but revealed afterward that she happened to do so while still suffering from the broken foot.
According to Montano, 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.
“When it happened, I remember saying to my coach something is wrong with my foot. It was the ball of my foot, so pivoting or anything was hard for me. Holding hooks in grappling, there was nothing I could do for a while, so I didn't know if I was going to be able to fight,” Montano told MMAWeekly.com just days after her victory.
“For about two or three weeks, I was bed ridden because I couldn't walk and I had to, instead of my strength and conditioning, I had to do [physical therapy], which was basically me holding my hands up against the wall, planting both of my feet on the ground and lifting my heel off the ground centimeter by centimeter on my left foot. That's how bad it was.”
Even during fight week in Las Vegas, Montano admits that she wasn't sure she was going to be able to compete because of how much the foot injury was affecting her range of motion and ability to complete any really complex moves inside the cage.
“The only reason why I was able to do anything that night was because of the cortisone shot,” Montano said. “My range of mobility the night before was crap. I thought I wasn't going to be able to fight. I was watching my fight and that's why my level changes were so high because I still can't roll over my left toes.”
Unfortunately due to the severity of her injury, Montano is already in the process of scheduling surgery on her left foot to get the damage repaired.
Montano was already planning on taking a brief hiatus after a grueling six weeks spent filming “The Ultimate Fighter,” where she defeated Lauren Murphy, Montana Stewart, and former Invicta FC champion Barb Honchak, and then going right into a training camp to prepare for the fight at the finale this past weekend.
Add to that, Montano had already fought once in 2017 before joining “The Ultimate Fighter.” So she's had five fights in one calendar year, which is often times the most activity an athlete will have in any two-year period.
Still, Montano is anxious to get her surgery handled so she can begin rehabilitation with plans in mind to defend her title in 2018.
“I need to have surgery,” Montano said. “I definitely need to get that fixed before anything else — the sooner the better.”