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Nicco Montano lashes out at UFC, Valentina Shevchenko

Nicco Montano’s run as the first UFC women’s flyweight champion is over before she had a chance to defend her title.

Montano, who became the inaugural 125-pound champ by winning a tournament on “The Ultimate Fighter” last year, was stripped of the belt Friday when she was hospitalized while cutting weight for her scheduled defense against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228 in Dallas.

She was far from pleased with the organization’s ruling after learning about it on Instagram.

“If you ask me, it’s completely uncalled for,” she said on social media. “There have been plenty other fighters who have not been punished for a lot more. Unfortunately I’m not one to be running my mouth so I don’t bring in the big bucks.”

Montano saved her harshest words for Shevchenko. The former bantamweight title challenger has been pestering Montano to step in the cage against her since the night she won the belt in December.

Shevchenko has accused Montano of everything from faking illness to begging the UFC to let her fight someone else in order to avoid fighting Shevchenko.

She doubled down on the accusations Friday.

“I am not surprised about this situation with Nicco,” Shevchenko said in a post. “She was trying to avoid this fight several times already. It 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. She speaks about fighting spirit and character. What kind of fighting spirit she is talking about?

“I don’t believe in a version about health issues. Her actions are totally unprofessional.”

In her statement, the normally soft-spoken Montano didn’t hold back about her feelings on Shevchenko, whom she referred to as a “lying bully” and an “egomaniac.”

“She’s obsessed with me and has too much time on her hands,” Montano wrote. “Not only has she been (disrespectful) and jealous of my efforts and accomplishments, blocking me first on Instagram during her first fight at 125 pounds, but the fact that she takes pride in kicking a person while (they’re) going through surgery and having their kidneys shut down truly demonstrates what a martial artist should not be.”

UFC president Dana White said Shevchenko will fight an opponent still to be determined for the vacant belt later in 2018.

Woodley could return in November

UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley didn’t rule out a return to the cage on the Nov. 3 pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden in New York after making quick work of Darren Till on Saturday night in Dallas.

Woodley said he’s just waiting on a call from UFC officials for a bout that could involve top contender Colby Covington, who rejected the fight against Woodley on Saturday because of nasal surgery.

“Is it the dude that needs the Claritin? The Zyrtec? My God,” Woodley said, mocking Covington’s reason for turning down the title fight. “This guy had a chance. He let Darren Till go out there and take his whooping for him. He tried to pause and tried to wait until a bigger pay-per-view, because his eyes got big.”

Press conference announcement expected

UFC president Dana White told reporters in Dallas he expected to unveil plans soon for a news conference to begin promoting Conor McGregor’s return to the cage against undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas.

“There’s going to be a couple of press conferences,” he said before UFC 228. “We’ll do this fight and then we’ll announce all the stuff that’s going on with Conor and Khabib. Nothing like (the Mayweather-McGregor world tour). We should have, but there won’t be enough time.”

Sources close to the organization to the Review-Journal an official announcement could come as soon as Tuesday.

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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