Episode 11 of The Ultimate Fighter: A New World Champion featured arguably the biggest upset in the show’s history. No. 14 seed Nicco Montano entered the 16-woman tournament coming off a loss and with a 3-2 record. She faced former Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak in the semifinals and defeated the overall No. 2 seed.
During TUF 24, Eric Shelton was a No. 15 seed and defeated No. 2 seed Yoni Sherbatov in the opening round. Sherbatov was the Xcessive Force Fighting Championship flyweight titleholder, but Honchak was the former world champion. The Invicta FC flyweight title was the women’s 125-pound world championship. While Shelton may have technically been seeded lower than Montano, her win over Honchak was the biggest upset in TUF history.
Honchak’s right hand was finding a home early in the opening round, but she chose to engage Montano in the clinch. Montano out muscled Honchak as the two exchanged knees to the body. When the two separated, Honchak landed a combination but quickly found herself back in the clinch. Montano tossed Honchak to the canvas and spent the final 90 seconds of the round in dominant position on the ground landing heavy shots.
Montano pressured Honchak in the second frame. She closed the distance and put the former Invicta FC champion against the cage. She overpowered Honchak and delivered knees to the legs and torso. Honchak circled free and landed two right hands before looking to take the fight to the ground. Montano defended the takedown attempt and drove knees into Honchack’s midsection. The two separated and Honchak won the striking exchanges. In the final seconds of the round, Honchak scored a takedown and landed in side control.
Honchak landed two hard right hands to start the final frame. Montano responded with a head kick that was caught by Honchak. Honchak tried to kick out Montano’s leg but ended up giving up her back. Montano worked to lock on a rear-naked choke, but Honchak defended the submission attempt. She scrambled back to her feet but continued to look for takedowns. In the closing seconds of the fight, Montano changed levels and put Honchak on her back. The judges scored the fight for Montano by unanimous decision. Two judges scored her winning all three rounds.
“I did what I came here to do and it’s just awesome. I’m super grateful and thankful,” said Montano after the win.
“I’m disappointed. Nicco is super tough, and she’s good and she’s talented. I’m proud of myself for getting as far as I did,” said Honchak following the loss. “It’s still in me. I still have improvements to make. I’m still learning. I’m still getting better. I’m still getting stronger.”