Like Cory Sandhagen and Song Yadong in the previous UFC event, Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan are young rising contenders ready for a breakout role. Either of Dern and Yan can be the UFC’s next “Golden Girl” but one will have to prove it here. So far the Dern vs Xiaonan betting odds lean on the former to get it done. But both have yet to win in a main event so expect the two to bring out their best in what is their biggest fight yet.
Dern vs Yan Fight Info
- Fighters: Mackenzie Dern (12-2-0) vs Yan Xiaonan (15-3-0)
- Location: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
- Broadcast: ESPN+
Dern Must Run Through Yan to Make a Statement
The UFC signed Dern in 2018 and it was a big deal for the company. For many years, Dern was a star in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) scene. She won many championships on the world stage and then easily transitioned into MMA. There were immense expectations when she made her UFC debut, to say the least.
Fast forward to now and Dern is 7-2 in the UFC and ranked fifth in the division. More notably, she already has the most submission wins in the division with four and has the second-most submission wins among UFC women fighters. Not bad for someone that’s only been in the promotion for nine fights.
However, Dern’s biggest fight – the main event tilt against Marina Rodriguez – ended with her on the losing side. It was Dern’s shot to turn heads and earn a title shot. But the loss proved to be a valuable lesson for her as she bounced back and edged Tecia Torres, a former top-five fighter in the division. Now, Dern claims she’s more than ready for a title fight.
“For me, I’ve been training since my last fight so I’m ready,” Dern told MMA Junkie. “It can be August, October – hopefully not too long. I want to fight pretty soon and keep the wins coming, keep my training on point. I think if I could get that interim title if that doesn’t fight happen would be pleasure. It would be awesome.”
Now Dern finds herself in a similar situation as she did against Rodriguez: in the main event where she is favored per the Dern vs Xiaonan betting odds.
Now Dern finds herself in a similar situation as she did against Rodriguez: in the main event where she is favored per the Dern vs Xiaonan betting odds. She can ill-afford another loss here as the strawweight division breeds new contenders quickly.
Dern will always have her ace-in-the-hole: her BJJ. She can sharpen the rest of her game, especially her striking, with renowned coach Jason Parillo. She becomes a solid UFC this weekend and for future fights including a championship bout.
Yan Won’t be Overshadowed by Zhang
Yan has hidden in plain sight it seems. The Chinese fighter can thank her compatriot, Zhang Weili, for casting a large shadow over her. Zhang became the first Chinese fighter to capture a UFC title and is now in line to reclaim the belt. But Yan can’t be overlooked for too long. Yes, she has lost two in a row. But one of them came against the current champion, Carla Esparza, and the other against Rodriguez, arguably the top contender at 115-pounds.
The loss to Rodriguez was controversial. Half of the MMA media outlets scored it in her favor. Yan lost to Esparza because of her lack of grappling experience. But training with Team Alpha Male, she actually utilized wrestling against Rodriguez. If she can continue to hone this part of her game, Yan will upset the Mackenzie Dern vs. Yan Xiaonan betting lines.
“I recognized my weakness through my last fight,” Yan told UFC.com in reference to her loss to Esparza. “I know where I should improve my overall skills. Both mentally and physically, I got stronger from the last fight.”
Yan did not get the decision against Rodriguez. But she fought a fellow striker. Against Dern, a grappler, Yan can neutralize her ground game by keeping the fight upright. If she does, Yan will light up Dern and put on a show worthy of a title shot. The Dern vs Xiaonan betting odds is against her. But Yan is used to being underestimated.