The last vestige of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's International Fight Week 2017 may wind up taking place two months later than expected, but it will nonetheless be literally international.
According to a Monday evening report by Combate, a subsidiary of the UFC's Brazilian media partner Rede Globo, Amanda Nunes will defend her UFC women's bantamweight title against top challenger Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215 on Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. Though the UFC has yet to confirm the report, Nunes posted to her Instagram account on July 12, simply stating “#september9” along with the Canadian, Brazilian and American flag emojis.
Nunes-Shevchenko 2 was expected to headline UFC 213 on July 8 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the culmination of the year's annual International Fight Week from the UFC. After both women made weight for their championship rematch on the Friday, the champion Nunes pulled out on fight day, citing a bout of sinusitis. Nunes-Shevchenko 2 was postponed and UFC 213 went on with the UFC interim middleweight title fight between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero as its headliner. It was an added hardship for the promotion, as UFC 213 was originally scheduled to be headlined by a men's bantamweight title showdown between former Team Alpha Male training partners Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw. However, in mid-May, news surfaced that a lingering back injury for the champion Garbrandt had not healed as expected, temporarily nixing the contest.
The Brazilian Nunes and her Kyrgyz-Peruvian challenger Shevchenko first met at UFC 196 in March 2016, with Nunes soundly winning the opening 10 minutes, while Shevchenko came on strong in the final round. Since their first meeting, the 29-year-old “Lioness” has run roughshod over Miesha Tate to claim the UFC women's bantamweight crown last July, then in her first title defense at UFC 207 this past December, she savaged former superstar champion Ronda Rousey in a mere 48 seconds. Meanwhile, Shevchenko, also 29 years old, had her breakout win 12 months ago, soundly outpointing former UFC champ Holly Holm over 25 minutes in the main event of UFC on Fox 20. She returned to action this past January, also on Fox's network television platform, slickly armbarring Julianna Pena in the second round to earn her championship rematch.
It is not known if Nunes-Shevchenko 2 will main event the UFC 215 pay-per-view bill. Not only is a Demetrious Johnson-Ray Borg UFC flyweight title fight being targeted for the same event, after the dissolution of the bout prior to UFC 213, UFC President Dana White suggested that a rebooking of the contest wouldn't be a headliner, saying that Nunes' withdrawal was “90 percent mental and maybe 10 percent physical.”
“I won’t main event that title again,” said White. “These situations arise all the time. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a situation like today, though, where she was physically capable of fighting.”