Nicco Montano is now a UFC champion, becoming the promotion’s first-ever female 125-pound titleholder at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale Friday night in Las Vegas. Montano defeated Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision, winning by scorecards of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.
Montano’s crowning moment comes after taking part in the UFC’s reality series, defeating the Nos. 3-, 6-, 2- and 1-ranked fighters in the 16-woman tournament. She is now 4-2 in professional MMA.
Modafferi took the fight on short notice, with original challenger Sijara Eubanks forced to withdraw from the contest just one day before after being hospitalized for kidney failure resulting from a poor weight cut.
It’s unclear who will be first in line to challenge for the flyweight title, but there will be no easy tests for Montano here on out.
Eubanks may be a name to watch, considering she was originally scheduled to fight for the title before withdrawing. She’ll likely need to re-earn her shot at the title by winning another fight.
Former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk showed an interest in moving up in weight, though that was before she lost her title at UFC 217. Former bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko seems focused on moving down in weight. Narrowly falling short in securing gold at 135 pounds, Shevchenko is seen by many as a heavy favorite to lead the division in the coming years.
Montano is now the fourth female champion in the UFC, joining Rose Namajunas (strawweight), Amanda Nunes (bantamweight) and Cris Cyborg (featherweight). All four women won their respective title in the last 1.5 years, with Namajunas, Cyborg and Montano all crowned in 2017.