A day after Amanda Nunes’s sudden withdrawal from her scheduled title defense against Valentina Shevchenko last night, there are still more questions than answers.
What we know is that Nunes weighed in successfully on Friday morning. From that point on, details remain sketchy. Nunes was transported to a Las Vegas hospital on Saturday morning with what is only being described as an “illness.” By early Saturday afternoon, the fight was officially canceled. But could the fight have been salvaged despite the hospital visit? Dana White seems to think so.
“She was medically cleared,” White said at last night’s post-fight press conference. “She was physically okay, they found nothing wrong with her, but she didn’t feel right.”
White seemed to think that Nunes’ hesitation to fight had less to do with illness and more to do with her mental state. “She said ‘I don’t feel right, I don’t feel good.’ I think that it was 90 percent mental and maybe 10 percent physical. I think a lot of fighters have had times where they don’t feel right.”
One person who absolutely was ready to fight was UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who was in town for the event. Jedrzejczyk volunteered to step in to fight Valentina Shevchenko in the main event but due to the last minute nature of things with Jedrzejczyk not weighing in on Friday or having gone through medicals, the fight couldn’t be made. Shevchenko and UFC were on board with the idea, but the Nevada Athletic Commission was not.
Left without an opponent, Shevchenko will take nothing home other than an unused fight kit and a lot of disappointment. She released a statement to her Instagram account expressing as much and pointed to an improper weight cut as the culprit for Nunes’ illness.
“Today I am 100 percent ready for this fight,” Shevchenko wrote. “During the last three months of training I did everything to be in my best shape for this fight. Nunes couldn’t cut weight correctly and was hospitalized. She wanted to cut weight and recover rapidly to have the advantage. The end result, everything went wrong. Even though she was medically cleared to fight, she backed out. This fight was originally offered to take place in April and she would not accept then. I did my part and am very upset that I can’t fight for the title today on this great event. I am even more upset for all my dear fans who support me every time throughout the world and to those who traveled to see me fight here in Las Vegas live. I feel frustrated about what happened but I won’t relax, will not put down energy in my preparation, and will wait until the UFC gives us another date for the fight.”
The makeup date for the fight may be UFC 215 this September. Dana White confirmed at the press conference last night that the Edmonton card has been offered to both sides. The show is still without a main event, but if White is to be believed, even if Nunes-Shevchenko is added to the card, it won’t be the headliner.
“I won’t do that again,” he said. “I won’t headline with that title again.”
Today I am 100% ready for this fight. During the last 3 months of training I did everything to be in my best shape for this fight. Nunes couldn't cut weight correctly and was hospitalized. She wanted to cut weight and recover rapidly to have the advantage. The end result, everything went wrong. Even though she was medically cleared to fight, she backed out. This fight was originally offered to take place in April and she would not accept then. I did my part and am very upset that I can't fight for the title today on this great event. I am even more upset for all my dear fans who support me every time throughout the world and to those who traveled to see me fight here in Las Vegas live. I feel frustrated about what happened but I won't relax, will not put down energy in my preparation, and will wait until the UFC gives us another date for the fight. #UFC213 #teamBullet
Hiscoe’s Analysis: That was the worst way to lose a fight as it was impossible to find a last-minute replacement a day after weigh-ins had taken place. The show was not too much worse off as they still had the Romero-Whittaker fight, which was the most anticipated fight to many fans and it was still a decent card. As a rule, UFC should always book another fight in the same division as the scheduled main event for instances like this.
As for Nunes, everything is pointing to a botched weight cut. Nunes towered over Shevchenko during their appearances together leading up to this fight and she probably cut too much weight and couldn’t recover. This could be a product of the early weigh-ins where Nunes thought the extra time would allow her to cut more weight and still recover where if the weigh-ins were in the evening, she may not have undergone such an aggressive cut. Either way, Nunes, and UFC should evaluate whether bantamweight is the right division for her. With featherweight being rebooted later this month, it is in desperate need of quality fighters so bringing Nunes into the 145-pound division to challenge the Cyborg or Tonya Evinger winner would bring some depth and credibility to the division. I’m always in favor of less weight cutting so that’s the route I would suggest for Nunes and UFC. Shevchenko could rematch with Holly Holm or a fresh fight with Shevchenko and Raquel Pennington could be made to crown a new 135-pound champion.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Performance bonuses for last night’s show went to Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker for Fight of the Night and to Chad Laprise and Rob Font for Performance of the Night.
-Michael Bisping explained on the FS1 post-fight show why he threw his championship belt down at the feet of new interim champ Robert Whittaker. “I am the undisputed champion of the world,” Bisping said. “This fake, this poser, is standing there with an interim belt like he’s the champion. I’m the champion. Here, take it. We’re going to fight, so right now I’m still the champ. I’m not going to walk around with it on. You’ve got one, I’ve got one. Take it. May the best man win. Whoever wins the fight, you can have it, you’re the champ.”
-Here is the UFC 214 trailer that aired during the pay-per-view last night that is being lauded as one of the best UFC has ever produced.
-Following Travis Browne’s submission loss to Aleksei Oleinik last night, Dana White told media that he thinks Browne should retire. “One minute you’re absolutely unbeatable and unstoppable, then the next minute you can’t win a fight.”
-Frank Mir announced on Twitter that he has been granted his release by UFC. Mir has been serving a two-year USADA suspension and would be eligible to fight again in April 2018.
-UFC announced that NFL Network’s Dan Hellie and former ESPN host Brendan Fitzgerald will alternate as play-by-play men for Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and Yves Edwards and Paul Felder will provide color analysis. Laura Sanko will serve as a backstage reporter and interviewer. This is in addition to the alternate “SnoopCast” commentary featuring Snoop Dogg and Urijah Faber.
-UFC announced a November 18 Fight Night card from Sydney, Australia (November 19 in North America).
NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: SATURDAY NEWS UPDATE 7/8: Nunes out of UFC 213, Goethje’s incredible performance earns bonuses, Gallagher to Bantamweight