UFC girls’s flyweight champion Nicco Montano is the primary Native champion in league historical past. With that comes plenty of delight and plenty of stereotypes from individuals who ought to know higher – she’s native, let’s put her in a tepee!
“A lot of what I symbolize metaphorically and bodily is about being the underdog and popping out on high,” stated Montano to Scott Harris for B/R. “It’s having these obstacles to beat with everybody pondering ‘she’s going to lose.’ Then altering all people’s minds and altering beliefs. Lots of indigenous peoples have seen that and felt it firsthand.”
“After I bought the championship belt, the following day I got here residence, and there was simply this mega parade. And there have been individuals hugging me and crying in my ear, and I’m like ‘You have been my trainer! me!’ There have been so many individuals from so many various reservations. There have been individuals who got here all the way in which from Canada. They usually have been, like, leaping on me. Once you’re indigenous you name someone your brother or sister, like ‘Hey, brother’ or ‘Hey, sister.’ Now I had so many brothers and so many sisters.”
She delivered her victory speech in Navajo.
“I believe that made them assume ‘We will do that,’” stated Montano. “There are conventional individuals who nonetheless dwell historically, dwell off the land, dwell in concord with the land, who don’t have a job, who nonetheless barter and dwell off of handshakes and phrase of mouth. The Navajo language could be gone in 20 years. Quickly it will likely be gone. … So once I did that, it actually motivated them.”
Her efforts are a struggle towards outdated, widely-held stereotypes.
“They assume we dwell in buckskin and teepees,” stated Montano. “It’s 2018 and there are nonetheless individuals who ask that query.”
“[UFC marketers] actually wished me to placed on a dressing up. They actually wished to see me popping out with struggle paint on my face. They assume ‘Native’ they usually assume these items. I don’t wish to be the token Native. I don’t wish to be blasted on posters with a headdress on and with buckskin and a loin material.”
“After I bought the belt, I wished to be shining a light-weight on my native tradition. Like, that is actually my motivation and actually the place my thoughts is. After I struggle, it’s so I can have a voice for them.”
Montano fights Valentina Shevchenko within the co-main occasion of UFC 228 on Saturday.
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