UFC flyweight champion Nicco Montano has been bombarded with criticisms since May. During that time, she was involved in a rift with journalist Ariel Helwani.
It all began when Helwani put out a tweet stating that the UFC is “losing patience” with Montano for being non-committal about her first title defense. In response, Montano posted a rather fiery response via Instagram, going as far as saying that the current ESPN reporter “sucks at his job.”
During a media scrum at UFC 227 in Los Angeles over the weekend, Montano defended her response to Helwani as an act of standing up for herself.
“I think for people who can read between the lines, and grasp what they were trying to get at, I stood up for myself,” Montano said (via MMAjunkie). “I still don’t understand why people would not, like they’re too afraid to speak out against somebody who’s trash-talking them just in fear of losing supporters or fans.”
“To me, this is what I’ve always been doing. There’s nothing different about my mindset and progression with my MMA career now that I’m in the UFC. I’m still going to stand up for myself when I think it’s appropriate.”
Montano was sidelined for a long time because of a bacterial infection that required her to undergo tonsillectomy. While she is now back in camp training for her maiden title defense against Valentina Shevchenko, she is still dealing with an injured foot she sustained during preparations for her fight against Roxanne Modafferi.
As she enters the Shevchenko fight as a huge underdog, Montano plans to just fight through her injury.
“I’m just going to have to get used to the pain,” Montano said. “But there’s not one fighter that goes into the octagon with 100 percent health.”
Montano vs. Shevchenko will co-headline UFC 228, which takes place on September 8th in Dallas, Texas.