Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tom Vaughn, Nicco Montano’s coach at the FIT-NHB gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, appeared recently on MMAjunkie Radio, and described what happened to his fighter as “a freaking nightmare.” That’s an accurate characterization of Montano getting hospitalized for a failed weight cut, and then seeing her title stripped. And there’s more.

“It was a nightmare,” said Vaughn, as transcribed by Matt Erickson for MMAjunkie. “It goes back farther than [the past week]. Nicco had a broken foot on the show. After she won ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and won the title, she had to have her foot put in a boot. She was inactive for quite a while. She got a little heavy. When she finally got the boot off and started training again, she was getting sick – severe colds, and found out it was her tonsils infected. So she had to have a tonsillectomy.

“She really had a series of things, and there was a lot of pressure to make this fight happen earlier than she wanted to. That played into part of this. The weight cut, the weight just didn’t come off as planned and here we are. It was a freaking nightmare.”

“I’m still in disbelief that she was stripped of the title for something that has happened to a lot of athletes that are still fighting in the same weight class. The other part of that is when they called me to tell me they were stripping her of the title, they were saying that [California State Athletic Commission executive director] Andy Foster was going to make it difficult for Nicco to ever fight at 125 again, which is crazy. She’s made that weight every time.”

“October, she’s already going out [to the Performance Institute]. Then we’re going back for the belt. To tell you the truth, we wouldn’t mind Nicco fighting Valentina’s sister – beat her up, then go back for Valentina. We’re going to try to have Nicco ready in case her sister’s opponent drops out. We’re going to be ready.”

Antonina is scheduled to make her UFC debut vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith at the TUF 28 Finale  on November 30, 2018, at Pearl Theatre at Palms Casino Resort on Fox Sports 1. If Evans-Smith can’t fight for any reason, Montano is an interesting replacement.