Nicco Montano makes her first defense of the UFC women’s Flyweight Title on Sept. 8, 2018 at UFC 228. She is a +550 underdog to the immensely talented Valentina Shevchenko who comes into the fight at odds of -900, one of the biggest favorites we have seen since the Rhonda Rousey days.
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Nicco Montano (5-2-0) became the first UFC Women’s Flyweight champion when she defeated Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision at the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 26 Finale in December 2017. Although Modafferi was a far more experienced fighter, Montano was able to take control in the later of five rounds, and edge out a decision victory over the top-seeded Modafferi.
Montano had picked up three decision wins to earn herself a spot in the TUF26 Finale. Montano was originally booked to fight Sijara Eubanks, who was pulled from the card the day of weigh-ins for medical reasons. Eubanks was replaced by the tournaments original No. 1 seed, Roxanne Modafferi, who dropped a unanimous decision to Eubanks in the semi-finals.
Since the end of The Ultimate Fighter, Nicco Montano has faced serious criticism from the media and other flyweights that she has not defended her belt, with some even calling for her to vacate the Flyweight Title. In a number of interviews, most recently at the UFC 25th anniversary press conference, Montano explained the series of illnesses that have kept her inactive for the past seven months. Now Nicco says she is all healed up from a tonsillectomy and back in camp preparing for her Sept. 8th title defense against Shevchenko, which will be by far the biggest test of her short MMA career.
Favorite Valentina Shevchenko is a veteran of more than 60 professional fights in Muay Thai and MMA and comes into this Flyweight Title fight ranked as the No. 1 contender with a 15-3-0 record in women’s MMA. A pro in MMA since 2003, Shevchenko is also a 9-to-1 favorite and that number may get even higher. Shevchenko has a 4-2 record in the UFC with both of her losses being extremely close fights with the current 135-lb. champion Amanda Nunes. Both decisions were very close fights that many fans believed should have gone to Shevchenko.
After those fights, Shevchenko then moved down to her preferred weight class of 125 and picked up a dominant submission win over Priscila Cachoeira before calling out the newly-crowned flyweight champion, Nicco Montano. Shevchenko has been campaigning for a fight with Nicco Montano since Montano won the Flyweight title back in December. She’s said in some interviews “we are fighters, we have to fight. If you are a fighter you have to do your job and fight” referring to Nicco Montano’s reluctance to sign the contract for their flyweight bout.
Pick & Prediction
After competing at 135-lbs .and being very successful against current and former UFC champions both standing and on the ground, Shevchenko should quickly overwhelm her smaller opponent and finish Montano late in the 1st or early into the 2nd round. Nicco Montano is a less refined striker/grappler and will easily be 5-10 lbs. lighter than Shevchenko on fight night. The gap in skill and size will be too much for Nicco Montano to overcome and Valentina Shevchenko should easily pick up another submission victory as well as her first UFC title in UFC 228 on Sept 8th.
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