At UFC Sacramento, both Nicco Montano and Juliana Vena will be making their returns to competition after lengthy layoffs. In the case of former womens flyweight champion Nicco Montano, she has not competed since December of 2017 when she defeated Roxanne Modafferi to become the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion. Since then, Montano was booked to make her first title defense against Valentia Shevchenko only to be hospitalized due to weight-cutting complications. Montano was then suspended by USADA for six months after testing positive for ostarine. In a media day interview, Montano opened up about what life has been like sitting on the sidelines and hearing all the speculation about her own career:
“There (were) a lot of people asking, ‘Why aren’t you back in? You’re running?’ And I just can’t say that I have a USADA suspension yet, so I just keep it quiet and listen to all of (these) crazy assumptions,” Montano told MMA Junkie. “Luckily, I’m a person who’s pretty strong mentally. It was all right, but everyone else around me was like, ‘You poor thing. You’re going through this. You’re going through that.’
“Way in the back of my mind I knew I was going to have this opportunity again eventually. I just had to be patient. But it was tough – not as tough as I think most people thought it was.”
That certitude may have been in the back of Montano’s mind, but in the forefront she was considering leaving MMA in favor of a new line of work:
“I had some time to have not any fight in sight. So that was not even in the question – fighting any time soon,” Montano said. “So, I just had to sit with my thoughts and go over and contemplate – think of what I need to do, think of what I wanted to do. If I still wanted to fight, if I wanted to do something else.
“I had the opportunity to go and do something else and pursue another dream, but fighting is kind of where my passion lies. It’s not all I know, but it’s something I hold dear. My dad was a fighter. I won the belt. So, who says I can’t do it again?”
The new career path Montano was considering was becoming a dietitian, dietetics but as the UFC Sacramento slate illustrates, she eventually thought better of it and decided to return to the fight game.
Do you think Nicco Montano will have a successful return against Juliana Pena at UFC Sacramento?