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With Sara McMann out, Nicco Montano expected to face Julianna Pena at UFC Sacramento

Julianna Pena will try to make weight at the UFC on FOX 23 weigh-ins Friday afternoon.
Julianna Pena will try to make weight at the UFC on FOX 23 weigh-ins Friday afternoon.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann has been forced out of her upcoming fight against former UFC flyweight champion Nicco Montano due to injury.

In her place, former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Julianna Pena is expected to make her long-awaited return to action to face Montano on July 13 at the UFC Fight Night card in Sacramento.

Multiple sources close to the situation confirmed that verbal agreements are in place for the new fight, although no contracts have been issued at this time. The fight won’t be made official until bout agreements have been signed and the UFC makes an official announcement regarding the matchup.

McMann initially announced that she was out of the fight in an Instagram post as she looked to return to action after taking a break in her career to have a child.

“Welp, I’m pretty bummed to announce that I won’t be fighting on the July card in Sacramento,” McMann wrote. “MMA training demands so much from the body and it pains me to concede that I just wasn’t able to get it properly prepared for the fight.

“So after learning the hard way (getting injured) I am taking a short time to focus on getting my body healthy and strong enough to withstand the brutal toll that must be paid to be in this sport.”

Ironically, Pena will also be returning after she gave birth to her first child last January. The veteran bantamweight contender hasn’t fought since 2017 when she fell by submission to Valentina Shevchenko, which brought to an end a four-fight win streak that including victories over Cat Zingano and Jessica Eye.

Now it appears Pena is ready to resume her fighting career with a showdown against Montano in July.

Montano will also be making her first appearance in the UFC since the end of 2017 when she won the inaugural women’s flyweight title. Montano dealt with a foot injury that kept her out for the majority of 2018 and then she was stripped of her title after she suffered through a brutal weight cut that knocked her out of her fight against Shevchenko last September.

Montano will now move to bantamweight where she’s expected to face Pena in July.

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