By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes blamed chronic sinusitis for her decision to drop out of her title defense at UFC 213 with just a few hours’ notice.
Nunes revealed her condition in postings Sunday on Twitter and Instagram. Nunes made a trip to the hospital on Saturday and decided not to fight later that night, infuriating the UFC and opponent Valentina Shevchenko.
Nunes, who beat Ronda Rousey in her last bout, said she felt out of breath during her weight cut. She also “felt off balance from the pressure in my sinuses. I was not feeling well enough to risk getting punched in the head with such pressure.”
“I have never pulled out of a fight before,” Nunes wrote. “I am sorry to all my fans that came out to see me. I’ll make it up to you the next time I step in the cage.”
UFC President Dana White and Shevchenko sharply criticized Nunes for her decision, which forced the promotion to scrap the main event of its pay-per-view show.
Shevchenko ripped Nunes for attempting a drastic weight cut, making her more susceptible to illness and many other health problems.
“You can’t just say, ‘I don’t want to fight,'” Shevchenko said.
Robert Whittaker won the interim middleweight title with an entertaining unanimous decision over Yoel Romero in the new main event of UFC 213.
White was frustrated by Nunes’ unwillingness to fight despite having no major injury and being medically cleared to compete. White claimed he won’t book Nunes as a main event in the future, and although he once said the same about former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who is headlining UFC 214 in Anaheim on July 29.
“You can’t make anybody fight,” White said Saturday night. “(Nunes) just said, ‘I don’t feel right. I don’t feel good.’ I think that it was 90 percent mental and maybe 10 percent physical.”
Nunes claimed the 135-pound title by beating Miesha Tate last July, and she defended it with a first-round stoppage of Rousey in December.
Nunes’ fight with Shevchenko could be rescheduled for UFC 215 in Edmonton in September. Both fighters have been offered the new date, but a deal hasn’t been finalized.
“The fight is being rescheduled,” Nunes wrote. “I still want this fight. I still want this opponent.”