UFC Women's Flyweight Champion Nicco Montano is making what many experts believe to be an audacious prediction in her first title defense against number one challenger Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228 on Saturday night - that she will knock out the Kyrgyzstan fighter.
In an interview with ESPN today Montano had this to say about her upcoming bout with the woman known as Bullet:
"I know that many people are writing me off for this fight because they believe that Valentina is the better fighter. Even my fellow Americans."
"But why should this be so? Because Valentina is a former multiple time Muay Thai World Champion? Because she went the distance with the current Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes twice? I am the inaugural UFC Women's Flyweight Champion. I think I deserve more respect than that."
Montano even went as far as to state that race could be a factor in her not getting the respect she deserves as Champion when she stated:
"I may get a lot of flak for saying this but it is quite obvious that the only reason why I am not getting the respect that is due to me as Champion is the fact that I am not white. I am of Navajo descent. The UFC is always looking for their white poster girl. At first it was Ronda Rousey then Holly Holm, now their new poster girl is Rose Namajunas. They are now hyping up Valentina Shevchenko to be their next poster girl even though she's not American and is yet to win a major UFC title. But I can tell you this, Valentina is going to get the shocker of her life on Saturday night she wouldn't even know what hit her."
Questioned further about how she can do that seeing that Shevchenko has never been knocked out or submitted and that her only two losses in the UFC have been close decision defeats to current Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes, Montano replied:
"I've been watching numerous videos of her on YouTube and I can see lots of flaws in her game. I know for a fact that I can punch harder than her. I definitely have what it takes to knock her out and retain my title. In fact, I'll be doing just that."
Contacted to get a response, Shevchenko had this to say:
"It's great to know that Nicco is so confident of knocking me out seeing that she avoided me for so long with her fake injuries but unfortunately for her when I am done with her on Saturday night at UFC 228 the injuries that she is going to get from this Bullet will be real and as painful as ever and just like a real bullet she won't be able to dodge the one that is coming her way."