Nicco Montano’s first title defense may finally have a date and event attached to it.
The UFC is targeting women’s flyweight champion Montano vs. No. 1 contender Valentina Shevchenko for September’s UFC 228 pay-per-view card, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported Saturday night. Though not quite official just yet, Helwani said one side of the fight has already signed her contract.
Montano has long been expected to fight Shevchenko in her first defense. But the 29-year-old has been sidelined with an injury for the entire first half of 2018, so the title fight hasn’t been scheduled until now.
After a successful stint on The Ultimate Fighter 26, Montano won the inaugural title last December with a unanimous-decision win over Roxanne Modafferi at TUF 26 Finale. That was Montano’s official UFC debut.
Shevchenko dropped to 125 pounds earlier this year and defeated newcomer Priscila Cachoeira in one-sided, brutal fashion. “Bullet” tapped her out in the second round, but referee Mario Yamasaki should have stepped in sooner.
Shevchenko, expected to be a large betting favorite against Montano, fought for the UFC women’s bantamweight title before her flyweight debut, losing to champ Amanda Nunes by a close decision.
At this time, it’s not clear whether or not Montano vs. Shevchenko is expected to serve as the evening’s main event.
UFC 228 takes place Sept. 8 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.