Former UFC champion Nicco Montano is featured in a new documentary, “Warrior Spirit” that was filmed around the time she became the promotion’s first Native American champion. But there’s a bad taste in her mouth over the film due to being shown nude, without her permission.
“I hear that it’s a great documentary and it’s winning awards and stuff,” Montano said when appearing on MMA Fighting’s podcast The Fighter vs. The Writer. “But just the fact that the documentary talks about Native Americans being exploited and the whole genocide with the government and how UFC fighters are exploited by the UFC. It’s just very hypocritical for them to be saying all this because I’m definitely exploited here.
“I never said it was OK for me to be exposed on film 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. Like OK, you’re deflecting. 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.”
The moment in question is when Montano is checking her weight and removes her towel for a moment to weigh in. The documentary does not censor the image or cutaway, leaving her nude body exposed on film. This was something she was not aware could happen.
“They just didn’t have any remorse,” Montano said. “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. 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.”
The director, Landon Dyksterhouse, defended including her nude body while appearing on Miesha Tate’s podcast, Throwing Down podcast on Sirius XM.
“To say it doesn’t connect with the narrative, I think that’s not true,” Dyksterhouse explained. “Because 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. 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.”