UFC Strips Nicco Montano of Women’s Flyweight Title, Valentina Shevchenko Will Get Shot At Vacant Belt

Nicco Montano
Nicco Montano Credit: Instagram (Nicco Montano//nrmontano)

In the wake of a hospital trip reportedly due to a bad weight cut, Nicco Montano has been stripped of the UFC women’s flyweight championship.

With all the drama surrounding UFC women’s flyweight champion Nicco Montano, something had to give. With news that she was out of her inaugural title defense opposite Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228 due to a weight cut gone bad, the question of how she’d handle the cut to 125lbs in future immediately came up. As the reigning champion, a blown weight cut is a major issue. In the end, the UFC decided it didn’t want to take the risk of the situation happening again. Friday on the UFC 228 weigh-in show, UFC President Dana White told host Megan Olivi that the title was now vacant.

“The belt becomes vacated,” White said (via MMA Fighting). “So, the title is vacated. Obviously, Shevchenko is dying to fight for this title. So we’re in the process right now of trying to make another fight.” White also stated that the fight for the vacant belt would take place before the end of the year.

Montano’s tenure as champ was a tumultuous one. The now ex-champion butted heads with the UFC over the timetable for her return to action, resulting in a public spat with the promotion. She also balked at the marketing minds behind the UFC when they wanted to promote her in a way she felt exploited her culture. “They literally wanted to see me coming out with war paint on my face,” she told Bleacher Report earlier this month. “They think ‘Native’ and they think these things. I don’t want to be the token Native. I don’t want to be blasted on posters with a headdress on and with buckskin and a loin cloth.”

Montano claimed the title after winning last year’s The Ultimate Fighter 26, defeating Lauren Murphy, Montana De La Rosa, and Barb Honchak in the process. Expected to face fellow TUF 26 finalist Sijara Eubanks at the finale, she instead fought a spirited Roxanne Modafferi, who stepped in on roughly a day’s notice when Eubanks missed weight for the fight.

Missing weight has now become something of a curse for women’s flyweight title fights in the UFC. Montano also gets the dubious distinction of being the second female UFC champion to be stripped of her title. Inaugural featherweight champ Germaine de Randamie was stripped of the 145lb belt after she refused to face Cris Cyborg.