After winning the inaugural women’s flyweight title at TUF 26 last December, sitting on the sideline was
the last thing that New Mexico native Nicco Montano (5-2) planned to do after her win against Roxanne Modafferi. And some thought the newly crowned champ was taking some time off for an unknown reason but that was not the case and this Saturday night in Dallas, she finally has a chance to defend the belt she worked so hard to get against #1 ranked, Valentina Shevchenko (15-3). “After I got off the TUF Show, I had to deal with a number of health issues,” explained Montano. “So, everybody thought that I was just hanging out at home when I was literally like having a viral infection throughout my entire body, hindering me from spending more than two days a week at practice.”
It will be just one day short of exactly one year ago that Shevchenko had her first title shot against Amanda Nunes at UFC 215 losing in a split decision and thinks that moving to a lighter weight class may be the piece of the puzzle that has been missing but does not count Montano out. “The biggest difference is that this time I will fight in my weight class, so this time, it will be exact same size opponent as me so I think this is the biggest difference between that time and this time,” said Shevchenko. “So it will be new fight with some different opponent and she has her own style and I think it will be good fight.
A win against Shevchenko is obviously what Montano wants on Saturday night but she has made it known that there is much more on the line with this fight. “I think I’ve been able to shine light onto where I’m from, the Navajo Nation. A lot of people are kind of naïve when it comes to our cultures and traditions and I think that’s what’s most important in giving me strength and the confidence that I have and that’s why – I mean, that’s why I’m the champion,” explained Montano. Not every person who wins a belt is going to be a champion per se, because they’re not, they’re not utilizing the advantage of the situation to the best and I think in this movement, particularly with the indigenous peoples, I’ve shown that, like I was saying before, no matter how much of an underdog you are, you know, you come out on top and you’re able – we’re all able to prevail so that’s definitely an analogy in our strength.” And when asked to give her prediction about the fight, her response was direct and to the point. “I’m going to win,” said Montano. “I’ll probably get a submission and then get a knockout at the same time.”
Nicco Montano will face Valentina Shevchenko in the co-main event women’s flyweight title fight at UFC 228: Woodley vs. Till, Saturday, September 8th only on Pay-Per-View. 10pm ET/7pm PT.
Photo credit: Getty Images/Zuffa, LLC.