Earlier this month, Nicco Montano was supposed to defend her UFC strawweight title against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228. But when Montano began suffering kidney issues due to her weight cut for the bout, the UFC’s medical team pulled her from the card and UFC President Dana White stripped her of the belt. It was a controversial decision, especially as Montano says she was strong-armed into taking the bout earlier than she was prepared for anyway, but not everyone dislikes the decision.
Former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk agrees with the UFC’s decision to strip Montano of the flyweight title, and in a media scrum ahead of UFC Moscow, Jedrzejczyk called out Montano for her lack of professionalism in failing to make weight.
“I think it was fair,” Jedrzejczyk told reporters (video by MMANytt). “I paid the ultimate price but I was on weight November 2017 and I would do this the same because for me it’s a shame for us as fighters and champions to not be on weight. We need real and dedicated fighters and champions in the UFC. It’s simply the best organization in the world. Here is not a space and time for bulls**t like this.
“It was very hard decision, very tough decision, and I believe that she’s not happy but you must take this job very serious and you must be 100 percent in. Weight cuts are not easy, are not nice, but it’s part of our job so we shouldn’t complain and just be on weight when you have to be.”
Montano’s misstep could prove a huge boon for Jedrzejczyk as “Joanna Champion” may soon have an opportunity to reclaim that moniker. Jedrzejczyk is now the presumptive first option to face Shevchenko for the vacant flyweight title, possibly before the end of the year as Dana White indicated an interest in booking a title bout for Shevchenko very quickly. For her part, Shevchenko recently said she was open to a bout with Jedrzejczyk and it seems that interest is mutual as Jedrzejczyk told reporters that she had received an offer for the fight and is “very open” to the possibility of it.
“This fight is not on. Of course, I’ve gotten offer but we’ll see,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I’m very open to fight Valentina Shevchenko. I always want to fight the best fighters and I think that she is one of the top female fighters in the world. [She is a] multiple world Muay Thai champion, very successful in MMA, so we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
The UFC is still looking for a main event for their return to Madison Square Garden in November and Jedrzejczyk says she could be ready to fight that soon, but that she is busy with other projects and would prefer to have time to properly prepare for her next fight, which makes sense as Shevchenko beat Jedrzejczyk three different times during their Muay Thai careers. Jedrzejczyk’s poor track record against Shevchenko doesn’t concern her for this fight though, who says that things are much different this time around.
“It was like 10 years ago!” Jedrzejczyk concluded. “We are different fighters. We’re not gonna meet in the ring, we’re gonna meet in the Octagon so that’s the point. It’s a different game. We’re different people now, we’re different athletes right now, we are different fighters. So there is nothing I should be concerned about.”
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