Nicco Montano has broken her silence for the first time since being stripped of the flyweight title. “The Ultimate Fighter 26” winner released a lengthy statement via Instagram, criticizing both the UFC for taking her belt and proposed opponent Valentina Shevchenko for making statements Montano claims are “completely false.”
“I want to say thank you to all my supporters, unfortunately my first time ever missing weight means the loss of my title that I’ve worked my ass off for,” Montano wrote. “And if you ask me that is completely uncalled for. There have been plenty other fighters who have not been punished for a lot more. Unfortunately, I’m not the one to be running my mouth, so I don’t bring in the big bucks.”
Montano was supposed to face Shevchenko in the UFC 228 co-main event on Saturday in Dallas, but the fight was scratched after the FIT-NHB product was transported to the hospital prior to Friday’s weigh-ins. Shortly thereafter, UFC President Dana White announced that Montano would be stripped of the 125-pound title and Shevchenko would face as as-yet-to-be determined opponent for the vacant belt at a later date.
“I had stopped sweating early, my kidneys shut down, and I had an imbalance of electrolytes. My sodium levels were way too high,” Montano wrote. “When I got to the hospital the doctor had told me that it was the best idea, that if I had waited even 30 [minutes] longer it could’ve led to [cardiac] issues. With that said I had no intention to drop out of the fight. I looked good at open workouts.
“There have been multiple occasions where athletes after the TUF show have been metabolically impaired,” she continued. “It takes a little longer to allow yourself the time to bounce back to your proper weight. In my case it was that with the accusation of illness and injury.”
Montano captured the inaugural flyweight championship with a win over Roxanne Modafferi at the “TUF 26” finale on Dec. 1. The 29-year-old had not yet reached the one-year mark for inactivity and revealed she was targeting October for her first title defense in order to be at full health. However, the UFC had other ideas.
“I had asked for a fight in October knowing this and had some legit people on my side also asking on my behalf, however the matchmaker and whoever else only gave the September at to choose from,” Montano wrote. “So with no other choice and with the internet backing a lying bully [Valentina], I was forced to accept the date or have the threat to get stopped anyway.”
After Montano pulled out of UFC 228, Shevchenko issued a statement calling her opponent “totally unprofessional” and claiming that the New Mexico resident was looking for a way out of their bout.
Montano has not been pleased with Shevchenko’s approach in recent months, nor with her rival’s reaction to her health issues on the eve of their proposed fight.
“This was the only time I signed a contract the statements this egomaniac [Valentina] has said are completely false and nowhere near the truth,” Montano wrote. “Her idea of the reality is so farfetched, so the fact that she trained for me [thee] times must mean a couple things: She’s obsessed with me and has too much time on her hands. Not only has she been [disrespectful] and jealous of my efforts and accomplishments -- also blocking me first on Instagram during her first fight at 125. But the fact that she takes pride in kicking a person while [they’re] going through surgery and having their kidneys shut down truly demonstrates what a martial artist should not be.”
Montano, who owns a 4-2 professional record, would have been a huge underdog against Shevchenko at UFC 228. Regardless of who eventually claims flyweight gold, Montano plans on returning to claim the crown she once held.
“Never have I experienced working with an opponent who is so heartless and disrespectful, you can absolutely guarantee I’m coming back to make my stamp and take back my belt.”