Nicco Montaño was being released from the hospital following a hellish experience cutting weight prior to UFC 228 when she got even more bad news.
Montaño said she was scrolling through social media and stumbled on something that affected her personally and professionally — UFC president Dana White saying that she was no longer the UFC women’s flyweight champion.
“I was running through Instagram and I saw an interview with Dana White saying the title has been stripped,” Montaño told Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I was getting out of the hospital and I was like, ‘Alrighty then.’”
Montaño, 29, was hospitalized with kidney issues while cutting weight last Friday morning. Her scheduled title defense against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228 was subsequently canceled when Montaño was unable to hit the scale. A few hours later, White said on FS1 that Montaño would have her belt taken away before ever getting a chance to defend it.
Part of Montaño understands the UFC’s reasons for making that decision. She said she just wishes it didn’t have to be at the detriment to her health. Montaño said doctors told her that her kidneys “shut down” while she was cutting weight.
“It was definitely pretty sad, it was disheartening,” Montaño said. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with the UFC for a bit after. My short-tempered self was like, eff this. You just almost died for a company that doesn’t even call you to make sure you’ve alive. Personally, it was kind of just like, well screw you.
“On the business level, if I could see it from a different perspective, I can see what they have to do — what they feel like they have to do. But just the inconsistencies with a bunch of things like this is still pretty disheartening in terms of what’s gonna happen with my career. Am I gonna want to stay in the UFC? I kind of want to stay in the UFC just to fight Valentina eventually. But just like with anything else, what else is the motivation? What else is the motivator?”
Montaño (4-2) said the weight difficulties started much earlier on and was the reason why she didn’t want to take this fight in September — she was hoping for October or November. Montaño said making three tough weight cuts on The Ultimate Fighter last year and then cutting again for the title fight in December combined with health issues this year messed her up. In 2018, Montaño has dealt with a tonsillectomy and a broken foot.
On check-in day last week, Montaño said she weighed 144 pounds when she normally weighs around 141. Montaño needed to be 125 pounds last Friday.
“I think it was just the amount of time,” Montaño said. “I came in a little heavy, so I was trying to race the clock to be on weight for this fight. I knew that from the beginning. I knew I was going to have to sacrifice a lot of my performance in the gym during camp leading up to it, because it was just about making weight. This whole camp was just about making weight.”
Montaño said she could have turned down the Shevchenko fight in September, but she said the UFC implied it would strip the title from her if she did. The UFC offered Montaño fights with Shevchenko over the summer and she pushed it back already due to health concerns.
“I still would have looked like I was scared or something,” Montaño said if she didn’t accept a fight at UFC 228. “And I already had a bunch of people on the internet being crazy. So I just wanted to show people that I was making an effort and being proactive about taking this fight, knowing that it was still going to just be up in the air making weight, that was going to be the biggest issue.”
And it ended up being a huge one. Now, Montaño is no longer the UFC champion and her status with the promotion is up in the air. White said over the weekend that Shevchenko would fight another opponent for the vacant title before the end of this year.
The whole experience has really soured Montaño on the UFC from a personal perspective. She said she has a call with White on Monday to discuss whats going on.
“I do believe it’s unfair I believe it’s unfair the way that it was done, with me finding out on Instagram,” Montaño said. “And also the way that their inconsistencies are. They’ve made so many interim belts, but this one was just stripped due to health precautions. There were so many interim belts that were made due to health precautions, due to injuries. And there’s just no consistency. So what’s there to rely on?”