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Valentina Shevchenko still hoping champ Nicco Montano signs the contract for UFC 228 fight

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There’s still a big question mark surrounding a potential Montano vs. Shevchenko fight for the belt at UFC 228.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Belem-Shevchenko vs Cachoeira Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Valentina Shevchenko cemented her place as the number one contender in the nascent women’s flyweight division with a brutal beatdown of Priscila Cachoeira back in February. Since then she’s been sitting on the sidelines waiting for flyweight champ Nicco Montano to return to action following a string of injuries and illnesses.

It sounded like we were close to seeing Montano vs. Shevchenko made official when Nicco challenged Valentina over Instagram to a scrap on the UFC 228 card in September. But two weeks later and the fight still isn’t officially signed. MMA Fighting talked to Valentina at the UFC Performance Institute, and ‘hopeful’ is a good description of how she’s feeling regarding the fight coming together.

”I hope yes, because she said she’s ready for this date, as am I,” Shevchenko said. “And I hope she will go and do what she said. Already we had this case where she said once she’s ready for July 7th, and when the UFC said ‘Okay let’s do July 28th,’ giving her some extra days to recover and be in better shape, in that moment she said ‘No, even for July 28th I’m not ready and I need more time.’”

”Now she’s saying she’s ready for September 8th and I hope she will follow her words and when the UFC figures out what city UFC 228 will be in and sends us contracts, she will just sign and we’ll do our jobs. What we have to do, not only speaking or posting pictures or tweets saying ‘I’m ready for the date.’ Doing what we have to do: fight.”

Interestingly enough, it sounds like it’s the UFC holding things up as they work on figuring out where the hold UFC 228. That doesn’t ease the general vibe of annoyance emenating from Shevchenko, who can’t wait to step back in the cage.

”If it would be my choice, I would have chosen to fight months ago,” she said. “We are fighters, we have to fight. We don’t just talk, we have to fight. And this is what I don’t like in this situation. I know I don’t have any other options but to wait. When the time comes, it will come and I will be ready for this time. I’m ready anyways any time because I’m never finished my training.”

UFC 228 remains quite bare as it stands, but currently has a featherweight showdown between Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov plus a bantamweight fight between John Dodson and Jimmie Rivera.