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Valentina Shevchenko: Nicco Montaño wanted to ‘escape from the fight’

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Valentina Shevchenko isn’t buying Nicco Montaño’s explanation on why she’s out of UFC 228.

Montaño, who was scheduled to defend her UFC flyweight title against Shevchenko in the co-main event of Saturday’s card at American Airlines Center in Dallas, was pulled from the event after being hospitalized Friday morning before official weigh-ins.

According to a statement provided to MMA Fighting on Friday, Montaño was taken to the hospital under the advice of UFC doctors as a result of complications from her weight cut.

“She will be fine in a few days,” said Montaño’s training partner, Steve Hanna. “The UFC medical team was called in to evaluate her this morning during the process of her weight cut. They determined that she had to cease cutting weight and be transported to and treated at the local hospital for issues regarding her kidney function.”

Shevchenko, though, plainly isn’t buying the story. Friday afternoon, Shevchenko posted on social media a claim that Montaño was attempting to “escape from the fight.”

“I am not surprised about the situation with Nicco,” Shevchenko said. “And I told it before, she can pull out from the fight at any time. She was trying to avoid this fight several times already. It is my 3rd preparation for this fight. Looks like it was her plan from the beginning, to show up for the fight week, to build up her name, speak confident and secure, and then escape from the fight in the last minutes.”

Montaño became the first women’s flyweight champion on Dec. 1, 2017, when she defeated Roxie Modafferi in the finales of The Ultimate Fighter 26 tournament to win the crowd. Since then, though she has not defended the title, as she has been beset by one health problem after another.

For Shevchenko, this marks the second time in just more than a year that she’s had a title fight pulled in the hours leading up to the bout. Shevchenko was scheduled to meet Amanda Nunes for the bantamweight title in the main event of UFC 213, but Nunes pulled out due to sinusitis on the morning of the card. Shevchenko then dropped to flyweight after losing a razor-thin decision to Nunes at UFC 215.

Shevchenko’s manager Roger Allen told MMA Fighting that Shevchenko will be “compensated” suitably for her “efforts,” though the fight won’t happen.

“The UFC and us have good relations and communication,” Allen said. “We are happy with the compensation they will give to take care of Valentina’s efforts.”

You can read Shevchenko’s full statement below: