Nicco Montano embraces underdog role going into UFC 228, ‘Every match starts 0-0’

“Every match starts 0-0. Anyone can talk anybody up. Everyone saw how the Ronda Rousey – Holly Holm fight went. They saw how Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey’s fights went, like, there’s no MMA match that’s going to be able to tell you the outcome a hundred percent. So yeah, that doesn’t bother me at all.

I’ve been feeling that [Valentina Shevchenko’s] not…respecting my game enough. Which is fine for me. It’s great for me cause I know how strong I am. I don’t need anybody telling me that.”

September’s UFC 228 fight card has already set some history. But not the good kind if you’re in one of the defending champion’s shoes.

For her very first UFC title defense, inaugural flyweight champion Nicco Montano will be going in as the biggest underdog ever for a defending champion. The betting odds will surpass that of Matt Serra’s in his rematch with Georges St-Pierre.

Standing across from her as the challenger will be the former 135-pound title challenger, Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko.

Shevchenko made her divisional debut at 125-pounds in February when she easily dispatched of the Brazilian newcomer Priscila Cachoeira.

Being the underdog is nothing new for the now champion, Montano. As part of season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter, Montano was seeded as No. 14 among the 16 fighters thus making it quite the surprise to see her win the tournament with relative ease.

Seemingly ahead of her experience in skill level, Montano has never lost a fight at flyweight as she’s gone 6-0 (when including TUF) and looks to make it 7-0 with an upset over Shevchenko.

It’s often easy to be overlooked when you haven’t been exposed to the same audiences as your well-experienced opponent, and as Montano mentions, she thinks it will play into her favor.

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/24/2018