Wu Yanan hoping for first UFC knockout win against Nicco Montano
Wu Yanan will look to snap a two-fight losing streak when she returns to the octagon at UFC Vegas 33 in Las Vegas this weekend.
Her opponent is Nicco Montano, who hasn’t fought since losing a unanimous decision to Juliana Pena in July 2019. The 32-year-old endured five bout cancelations during her hiatus, and although Wu respects the skills of the TUF 26 winner, the Chinese fighter believes she has the self-confidence to come out victorious.
“I think that my opponent used to be very good and is very well-rounded, but I believe I have the confidence to beat her,” Wu told asianmma.com.
“There’s a lot of ways to win a fight and I believe I think I’m very well-rounded to beat Nico. I haven’t KO’d an opponent (in the UFC) before but it’s something that I’d like to do to Nicco,” she added.
Having made her debut in 2017, Wu is a relatively old hand in the UFC compared to many of her countrymen and women. The opening of the UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai two years ago has seen an influx of talent coming from China, and the 25-year-old expects more to follow suit.
“I think the UFC is still relatively new in China but there’s a lot of fighters coming in and the market is growing very fast and very big and, in the future, there is going to be even more fighters,” she said.
“Also, the amount of fighters with the potential and ability to fight in the UFC has gone up,” she added.
The opportunities for Chinese fighters to make the step up are certainly richer than they’ve ever been. And, having cut her teeth on the regional circuit back home, Wu appreciates that she’s now able to focus on what she does best.
“In the UFC they respect the fighters and it’s a very good platform for us. They treat the fighters very well. It’s given me a lot of opportunities to express myself. As opposed to the smaller organizations where it’s not as organized. It’s not as professional. (Here,) I feel like all I have to do is put on a good fight,” she said.
With global exposure comes greater scrutiny, and the sanda specialist has faced a mixed bag when it comes to online interactions.
“Yes, I have a lot of fans and a lot of haters. They all write on my blog and stuff like that, so it aggravates me, but I just ignore them. And for the fans that do support me and encourage me – I shall reply to them and talk to them,” she said.
In many ways, Weili Zhang‘s title run in the strawweight division blazed a trail for her compatriots to follow suit. For now, however, thoughts of climbing the bantamweight rankings are not Wu’s primary motivation.
“The rankings to me are not that important. Whoever the UFC matchmaker gives me – I’ll take it. Whoever the opponent is, I’m ready to fight,” said the Chaoyang-based fighter.
“I do this for two reasons. Firstly, I like the fighting. I like to be in the cage. I like to faceoff with my opponent. Secondly, of course, I like to get paid. I like the money!”
While she may not be eyeing a title right now, Wu holds the current flyweight champion in highest regard.
“Valentina Shevchenko is the most exciting fighter in the world. She’s just a very well-rounded fighter. She’s able to perform and express herself,” said Wu.
Even though recent results have gone against her, Wu heads into the weekend relishing the task, and believes that lady luck will be smiling down in her.
“I like to have challenges. I perform when given the challenge and I’m a lucky girl. Luck will be with me,” she said.