Nicco Montaño becomes first Navajo UFC Champion fighter

LUKACHUKAI, Ariz. — On Dec. 1, Navajo tribal member Nicco Montaño defeated Roxanne Modafferi, becoming the first Navajo UFC Flyweight Champion.

On behalf of the Navajo Nation, President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez congratulated her.

To celebrate and honor Montaño’s victory, a parade was held Dec. 3 in her hometown of Lukachukai, Arizona. According to local organizers, the parade route ran along Route 13 from Totsoh Trading Post to the Giant Community store and back again. A potluck luncheon provided by community members was enjoyed after the parade.

After her victory, Montaño immediately acknowledged who she was, where she came from and tied her language into her speech.

In a post-fight interview Montaño said she wants to return to Chinle, Tsaile and Lukachukai to remind all the kids that despite hardship they can succeed.

“We know how to live off the land, we know how to use the necessities of everything and not just take everything for granted,” she said.

Begaye said that Montaño worked hard and earned the title for the efforts she put into her training.

“Congratulations goes to Montaño, her coaches and her family,” he said. “To achieve the belt at the highest level is remarkable. She has earned the title and deserves to be called a champion.”

Nez applauded her for being an inspiration to Navajo people.

“Montaño’s achievement is a reminder that there are great athletes on the Navajo Nation,” Nez said. “There are many of our people who are proud of her accomplishment and they look up to her. It reminds us that each of us holds the ability to reach our full potential in life.”

“We are strong, resilient people and I appreciate Montaño for being an inspiration for our Diné people,” Nez added.

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