Sup folks. I know a lot of you are watching college football right now, and plan on staying that course for the remainder of the night, but this blog is for those of you captivated by the barbaric human cockfighting that are watching UFC 228 tonight. This pay-per-view, while definitely not the most appealing to casual fans, is pretty damn great, with tons of narratives threaded throughout the night, but one of those narratives was stripped from the card yesterday and I thought I’d let you know why, if you missed it.
UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Nicco Montano was hospitalized yesterday for complications she had during her weight cut, so her fight against Valentina Shevchenko has been cancelled, and the champion has been stripped of her title. This comes nearly a year after Montano became the inargural champion after defeating late-notice fighter Roxanne Modafferi (who had previously been eliminated from Nicco’s season of The Ultimate Fighter) at the Ultimate Fighter finale last December.
This is a tough situation, obviously, for everyone involved – but unfortunately I do think the decision to strip her of her belt was the correct one. Nicco’s championship victory and “reign” thereafter felt much like Germaine de Randamie’s as UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion, where it was incredibly unceremonious initially and downright not considered genuine by mixed martial arts fans in the subsequent months, as the champion’s injuries sidelined her and the true best fighter in the division ran rampant.
In this case, that fighter is Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko.
Back to Germaine for just a second, though, I do believe she was dodging Cris Cyborg and lied about some of those injuries and surgeries she was supposedly going through. I do. Everything was just a little too crisp with the recovery times and whatnot. With Nicco, it’s much harder to tell, but her scheduled opponent (who was a -600 favorite in this fight), Valentina Shevchenko – seems to think Montano never planned on stepping into the cage with her this week, and has been publicly sharing her doubts about the fight ever happening for months now. Even as recently as Thursday, less than 24 hours before weigh-ins, Shevchenko told Ariel Helwani that Montano probably wouldn’t be in the cage tonight.
And what do you know? She was right.
When news broke, Shevchenko posted a long statement to her Twitter in Instagram feeds that can be read below.
tl;dr? Homegirl’s pissed. A direct quote that sums up the message is, “Looks like it was her plan from the beginning, to show up for the fight week, to build her name, speak confident and secure, and then escape from the fight in the last minutes.”
Now, with de Randamie, it was a bit tough to rip the Band-Aid off and initially people were upset, as they are right now over this, but now that Cyborg is champion, at least that division now has a bit more legitimacy. No matter how scarce challengers may be, at least we as mixed martial arts fans feel the best fighter in that weight class is holding the championship. With Nicco Montano – all due respect to her – I never felt that. And that doesn’t warrant a title getting stripped, but after almost a year’s worth of non-defenses and a high profile, last minute pull out over weight-cut related issues…I think it does.
Now’s the time to set up Valentina Shevchenko vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship, giving my girl Katlyn Chookagian the winner there. Make Women’s Flyweights Great Aga-oh, well, wait. They haven’t been great in the UFC yet, but like – ya know – you get it. Make ‘em great for a first time.
Luckily for us, both men in the UFC Welterweight Championship main event made weight (there were massive doubts about challenger Darren Till’s ability to do so after missing on his last cut and it’s always tough for Tyron Woodley despite him never actually missing) and Darren Till cut an extra pound just to prove a point!
Should be a great night of fights tonight, so I hope you enjoy! I’ll talk to ya’s in a bit!