Long shot Sijara Eubanks powered her way through the tournament to earn an unexpected shot to become the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
The scale proved to be the one opponent she couldn’t overcome.
Eubanks didn’t make it to weigh-ins during the allotted two-hour window Thursday morning and has been pulled from the Season 26 title bout against Nicco Montano on Friday night’s card at Park Theater inside Monte Carlo.
Las Vegan Roxanne Modafferi will replace Eubanks in the main event and fight Montano to determine the organization’s first 125-pound female champion.
A UFC official told the Review-Journal that Eubanks was hospitalized Thursday morning.
“First of all, I’m a champion,” she posted to Instagram on Thursday afternoon. “Point blank. I will be UFC champion, but it’s God’s will that it won’t be Friday night.”
The struggle to make weight was nothing new for Eubanks, as it was a recurring storyline on the reality show.
At one point during the season, Eubanks had to cut off some of her hair to hit the mark for a weigh-in.
“I’m a gangster and I’ve cut more weight than most male fighters, and unfortunately there were some miscalculations this cut, no excuses, I worked my ass off and went out on my shield,” she wrote. “I was hospitalized early this morning for kidney failure but best believe I’ma be right back training and right back after that belt.”
Modafferi, the top seed in the tournament, had won four of her past five fights under the Invicta banner before the show. She had been scheduled for a rematch with fellow semifinalist Barb Honchak on Friday’s card.
“I’m super excited to be here and for this opportunity,” the 35-year-old Modafferi said Thursday night. “It’s already cool just to be in the UFC, but it’s such an honor to be fighting for the title.”
Honchak will face Lauren Murphy on the main card. Murphy came to Las Vegas as an alternate and went through a weight cut in case a spot opened on the card.
Modafferi had high praise for Montano on Wednesday.
“I never want to bet against Nicco,” Modafferi said when she thought Montano would be fighting Eubanks. “She came out of a gym I’ve never heard of, and you watch her and she just does everything right. She’s so much fun to roll with because her jiu-jitsu just flows.”
Montano, 28, also was an underdog on the show. She entered the tournament as the No. 14 seed with five pro fights.
“Of course there were some moments where I questioned if I should really be here. It was like, ‘Am I the fluke?’” she said. “But once I got that first fight out of the way, I felt like I found my rhythm. I would see the other girls practice, and I knew I could hang.”
Now the Arizona native is on the verge of winning a UFC title.
“My focus has never been more clear,” she said. “It’s been a really fun couple of months since the show was taped, and I’m just ready to get in there.”
The main card airs on Fox Sports 1 at 7 p.m.
‘TUF’ 26 Finale
Main card bouts on Friday’s “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 26 Finale at Park Theater at Monte Carlo:
— Joe Soto (18-5) vs. Brett Johns (14-0), bantamweights
— DeAnna Bennett (8-3) vs. Melinda Fabian (4-3-1), women’s flyweights
— Eric Spicely (10-2) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (26-9), middleweights
— Lauren Murphy (9-3) vs. Barb Honchak (10-3), women’s flyweights
— Sean O’Malley (8-0) vs. Terrion Ware (17-6), bantamweights
— Nicco Montano (3-2) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (21-13), for the inaugural women’s flyweight title