Montaño Cruises Past Modafferi to Capture Inaugural UFC Women’s 125lbs Title Via UD

A “night of firsts” became the theme inside The Park Theater at the Monte Carlo resort and casino as the UFC held its first The Ultimate Fighter Finale event there with the winner of the main event becoming the first ever women’s flyweight champion seeing as how it was the inauguration of that UFC championship.

The headliner featured former King of the Cage 125-pound champion, Nicco Montaño (4-2), colliding with former TUF season 18 alum, Roxanne “The Happy Warrior” Modafferi (21-14). The Las Vegas representative had the #1 ranking in the TUF season 26 tournament, while on the other hand Nicco Montaño was ranked #14; both members of Team Justin Gaethje. However, that placement did little to deter Nicco from cruising to a unanimous decision with scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46. Montaño also became the first ever UFC title holder of Navajo heritage in the company’s history.

The judge’s scores reflected her dominance as she had the better footwork, connectivity and stronger pace, along with multiple takedown attempts and successful takedowns and Octagon control over the course of 25 minutes. In Round 1 Montaño mixed up her attack using leg kicks and 1-2 combinations, controlling distance early and hitting a takedown about midway into the round. Modafferi’s offense materialized in the form of her own takedown in the last 30 seconds but nothing with which to steal the round. Modafferi’s best moment was in Round 2 when she marched forward behind her own 1-2 combinations; temporarily putting her foe on the defensive but never capitalizing with a game changing combo. The “Happy Warrior” applied a takedown late in Round 2 that cost her big as she wound up in a tight triangle choke attempt from Montaño who may have finished the fight had she had more time to work.

In Round 3 the Syndicate MMA representative appeared to be the fresher of the two but fell into an awkward rhythm of stepping in with an overhand right or lazy jab if not repeating the same 1-2 combination. The lack of creativity from Modafferi allowed Montaño to take over regardless of what “The Happy Warrior” mustered up. Modafferi managed to land a pair of clean punches that busted up the nose of the Arizona native. In return, Montano continued to mix up her strikes from head to body and body to head and every time she came forward Modafferi retreated, giving up too much space as well as fighting her foe’s fight.

Going into the championship rounds Montaño kept up the more effective variety of strikes, she fought well off the clinch going for trips or hitting some standing knees. She secured Round 4 easily thanks to a pair of takedowns, one early in the stanza and the other in the final 60 seconds. Montaño repeated the approach with another pair of takedowns in Round 5, both in the first 2 minutes. On the second takedown she got to mount and raked her foe with a bit of ground and pound. In the final 90 seconds after landing some knees in the clinch, Modafferi went for a judo throw which backfired when Montaño blocked it then reversed the position. Modafferi got planted on her back and fought in guard for the final moments as the match came to a close, going for one final submission attempt in hopes of springing the upset. The armbar was tight but Montaño managed to survive by ripping her arm out of the hold and getting back up to her feet, then both women marched at one another in the final ten seconds throwing caution to the wind in a heated exchange at close range to the crowd’s delight just before the final bell sounded. Their hard fought effort granted them the “Fight of the Night” bonus.

In the aftermath, Modafferi thanked everyone and was grateful for the opportunity. She took the fight on one day’s notice after all.  The original finalist, Team Eddie Alvarez’, Sijara “Sarj” Eubanks, defeated Modafferi in the semi-final match via scores of 30-27 all across the board. Nonetheless, weight cutting issues left her hospitalized and she was forced to withdraw from her spot in the Finale opposite Nicco Montaño.

Modafferi walked out of the Octagon to a big round of applause from the pro-Montaño crowd being greeted with multiple hugs, cheers and high-fives from the fans as she made her way out of the arena. Montaño joked during the post-fight media scrum that it seemed like, “the entire reservation came” due to the heavy, “Nicco, Nicco, Nicco!” chants throughout the entire fight. The humble fighter and champ acknowledged the target on her back due to her inexperience but welcomes all challengers. For now, she looks forward to moving out of her family’s basement with her boyfriend, getting her own place, and starting a more stable life as the division’s champion.


The co-main event of the evening showcased the much anticipated debut of “Suga” Sean O’Malley (9-0) who remained unbeaten thanks to his UD over Terrion  “Flash” Ware (17-6). The scores of 29-28 across the board highlighted how even though impressive in his TUF Finale event appearance, O’Malley’s level of opposition was tougher for him to overcome. Coming from Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series” the talented fighter gave as good as he got as he floated along the Octagon floor behind countless angles, a crisp jab, mean overhand rights, front kicks as well as high kicks all while constantly switching from southpaw to orthodox stance. Ware gave away the two rounds his lost simply due to inactivity but, it wasn’t for lack of trying rather thanks to O’Malley’s pouring of movement mixed in with an assortment of strikes. He never fell into a pattern throwing with fierce ingenuity in the form of a flying triangle choke or spinning back fist-standing elbow or standing elbow-spinning side kick. If he is only scratching the surface of his potential the bantamweight division will get very interesting thanks to him and fellow rising star, Jimmy Rivera plus the expected return next year of former ruler, Dominick Cruz.


Former Invicta champion “Lucky” Lauren Murphy (10-3) moved past “Little Warrior” Barb Honchak (10-3) via split decision with scores of 29-28-, 28-29 and 29-28. The ex-title holder grinded out the win thanks to her top control, takedowns, powerful wrestling and solid jab.


The second of two scheduled middleweight bouts on the card showcased Eric Spicely (10-3) locking horns with Gerald Meerschaert (27-9). In the opening round, Meerschaert bull rushed his man with a buffet of 1-2 combinations; right jab-left hook, right jab-left hook, over and over for about a dozen times as Spicely covered up while back pedaling along the cage wall. He eventually returned fire with a few strikes of his own temporarily disrupting the onslaught from his opponent. From there, Spicely got the fight to the mat off of a takedown instantly transitioning to Meerschaert’s back.  The Syndicate MMA representative sunk in his hooks, popped him with a few hammer fists and short shots to the face and head in hopes of distracting him in order to slide his forearm under Meerschaert’s chin for a rear naked choke finish. Spicely was not able to complete the maneuver thanks to his man’s slick defense for a little over 2 minutes. Meerschaert was able to finally turn into his man’s guard, ending the round that way before it came to a close.

Going into Round 2, the southpaw totally changed the momentum by keeping the fight at his distance and leading with body kicks. Meerschaert walked his man down ripping away with a hat trick of them; every single one landing harder than the last. Spicely made no adjustments as he stepped backwards and his foe’s perfect positioning and surgeon-like precision painfully snuck right under Spicely’s right elbow, barely squeaking by. The final liver kick of three from Meerschaert crashed unto Spicely’s liver with a slapping thud instantly sending Eric to the canvas holding his side in pain.

The official time of the brutal KO finish came at (2:18) of Round 2 earning Gerald “TM3” Meerschaert the victory as well as $50,000 for a Performance of the Night bonus.


DeAnna “Vitamin D” Bennett (8-3-1) made it a point to assert herself in the fight as the wrestler. And she did. However, Melinda Fabian’s (4-3-2) takedown defense was up to par and therefore they spent the majority of the match along the cage wall. Bennett deep in the Hungarian’s hips fishing for a single or double leg, and Fabian widening her base or sprawling to prevent being driven to the mat. The battle of takedowns and takedown defense went on for the majority of the 15 minutes and the fight itself ended in a majority draw. One judge had it 29-27 for Bennet with the remaining two seeing it 28-28.

Had it not been for a point deduction by referee John McCarthy in Round 2 for Fabian’s blatant grabbing of the fence to prevent two of the takedowns, Fabian should have won the match simply due to her takedown defense, cleaner and more effective punches and elbows.


The UFC is creeping up on its 25th birthday and in its rich history of being the leading organization in the world of MMA there have only been a total of two calf slicer submission finishes inside of the Octagon. The most recent one happened on the opening bout of the main TUF Finale card tonight as Brett Johns (15-0) crossed the pond to make his TUF Finale debut in the most spectacular way possible against Joe “Bad Mofo” Soto (18-6).

The Welsh native met his man in the middle of the cage, they fought off the clinch, looked for takedowns then, immediately found themselves scrambling on the mat. Johns got the dominant position going first for what looked like a heel hook before applying the fancy finish.

Just 30 seconds into the 1st Round Soto was tapping in excruciating pain. The phenomenal submission granted Johns the win and a “Performance of the Night” bonus of $50,000 that night from the UFC.

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