Yan Xiaonan defeated Mackenzie Dern by majority decision on Saturday, snapping a two-fight losing streak. Yan's victory was her first since defeating Claudia Gadelha by decision in November 2020. The outcome should place her in the top five of the official UFC strawweight rankings. She entered the main event of UFC Vegas 61 as the division's No. 6 ranked fighter, compared to Dern's No. 5.
Yan spoke about the next step in her UFC career after the victory, telling UFC commentator Megan Olivi via an interpreter that she couldn't have been happier than she was in the moments following the upset win.
“My next step right now is to have a break in Sacramento,” said the Team Alpha Male fighter, “My ultimate goal in the UFC, of course, is the belt. Now I have fought the best wrestler in the division, the best striker in the division, the best jiu-jitsu fighter in the division, so no matter who the UFC gives me, I don’t fear. Let’s fight.”
Carla Esparza, the two-time (and current) strawweight champion, knocked out Yan in 2021 before defeating Dern. Yan was defeated in a split decision by Marina Rodriguez in March 2022. Clearly, Yan, 33, who made her UFC debut in 2017 and is 16-3 with one no contest in her career, believes she has the experience and readiness to fight for the title.
Esparza defends her title against former champion Zhang Weili in the co-main event of UFC 281 on November 12. Perhaps a match up with Rose Namajunas will make sense for Yan Xiaonan as she has not fought anyone since her defeat back at UFC 274.
What do you guys think who should Yan face next in order to close the gap for title contention?