Former UFC flyweight champion Nicco Montano said she never agreed to appear nude in a documentary film that “exposed” her body.
“I never said it was OK for me to be exposed on film,” Montano said on “The Fighter vs. The Writer” podcast while discussing the film titled, “Warrior Spirit.”
“And when I asked about them taking it down, they just said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s a good film, everyone loves how impactful it is.’ — I’m like ‘OK, you’re deflecting.”
Montano claimed she had not yet seen the documentary but did confirm she was signed up to be in it.
“They’re just like, ‘Well you signed off and it’s part of the film and it makes it more impactful,’ but it’s also at my expense,” Montano said. “It’s still very hypocritical of them to be demonstrating or showing how they say the UFC is portrayed and they’re doing the same thing to me, knowing I’m not getting paid or any royalties from this at all.”
Montano added, “I still don’t want to be exposed for anyone to see cause I’m not getting any royalties, I’m not getting any kickbacks from this documentary. Like nothing.”
Director Landon Dyksterhouse addressed the situation while on Miesha Tate’s “Throwing Down” podcast, and defended using the footage in the film.
“In the beginning, Nicco had everything. She has the belt, she has her health, she’s at her very best. It’s why so many people in the Native American community idolize her,” Dyksterhouse said, per MMA Fighting. “At the end of the movie, the arc of the story is she’s left with nothing. She’s stripped down including her weight, including her body, including everything she had attained with the UFC.
“So it is absolutely part of the narrative arc there. Not one single programmer in all of the festivals we play, whether it be Native American or here in NYC or anywhere else has mentioned anything of the sort that it’s [exploitative] in nature, that it’s pornographic in nature, that it’s any of these things.”
“Warrior Spirit” chronicles the highs and lows of Montano’s MMA career from being crowned the inaugural UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion to her release from the organization in August, when she missed weight for a scheduled fight with Wu Yanan. Montano was unable to lose weight for the third consecutive time.
“But just the fact that the documentary talks about Native Americans being exploited and the whole genocide with the government and then how UFC fighters are exploited by the UFC. I think it’s just very hypocritical for them to be saying all this because I’m definitely exploited here,” Montano said.
According to MMA Fighting, the documentary depicts Montano standing on a scale nude after she dropped her towel. It shows her terrifying weight reduction before her fight with Valentina Shevchenko for her UFC Women’s Flyweight title. The bout was cancelled after Montano was hospitalized due to weight-cutting effects, and she was subsequently stripped of her UFC Women’s Flyweight title.
Elsewhere in the podcast interview, Montano, 32, said that she’s still training and hopes to fight again.
Last fight was at UFC Fight Night 155, in 2019. She was defeated by Julianna Penna.