Nicco Montano’s first title defense is in danger of being canceled after the UFC women’s flyweight champion was taken to a hospital in Dallas, sources confirmed to MMA Fighting’s Chuck Mindenhall on Friday morning ahead of the UFC 228 weigh-ins. ESPN first reported the news.
The status of Montano’s co-main event fight with challenger Valentina Shevchenko is now up in the air and it is not known if Shevchenko will remain on the card. There are six other female fighters competing Saturday, four in the 115-pound division (Jessica Andrade, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Carla Esparza, and Tatiana Suarez) and two in the 135-pound division (Irene Aldana, Lucie Pudilova), though it is unclear if any are being considered to take Montano’s spot.
Montano (4-2) became the inaugural women’s 125-pound champion last December when she defeated Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale. The victory was the culmination of the 29-year-old’s run through the TUF 26 tournament that saw her earn her spot in the finals by defeating UFC veteran Lauren Murphy, Montana De La Rosa, and former Invicta FC champion Barb Honchak.
Saturday was to mark Montano’s first fight since the finale and first defense of her championship after being sidelined with injuries for the first half of 2018. Facing Shevchenko, a one-time women’s bantamweight title challenger who made a successful move to flyweight in February with a dominant win over Priscila Cachoeira, Montano was listed as a major underdog on most betting sites.