For the second time in just more than a year, Valentina Shevchenko has seen her chance to win a UFC belt vanish because of a champion falling ill as the hours ticked down to the title fight.
Friday, new flyweight champion Nicco Montano was hospitalized before her weigh-in for Saturday night’s UFC 229 pay-per-view card in Dallas, and her first title defense — against Shevchenko — was scrapped, with a UFC spokeswoman later adding, “Valentina is not fighting tomorrow,” despite the interest of a replacement opponent.
Shevchenko lashed out at Montano on Instagram.
“I don’t believe in a version about her health issues,” Shevchenko wrote on Instagram. “ … Her actions are totally unprofessional.”
The episode is haunting for Shevchenko (15-3), who expressed almost paranoid skepticism earlier this week when the topic of becoming a champion for the first time was broached. She said she just wanted “The Ultimate Fighter” reality television series winner, Montano (4-2), to appear in the cage on Saturday night.
While champions in boxing are stripped of their belts for missing weight, the UFC allowed bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes to retain hers when she fell ill after making weight in July 2017, scrapping a title defense against Shevchenko. Two months later, Nunes defeated Shevchenko by split decision.
The UFC 228 main event is on schedule after challenger Darren Till made weight for his shot at champion Tyron Woodley.