After back to back to back defeats it was do or die for Xiaonan Yan as she took on Mackenzie Dern in the UFC Vegas 61 headliner. The Chinese strawweight took the former option, earning a hard fought majority decision win after five closely contested rounds.

In the opening round she got to showcase her sanda skills, throwing lots of side kicks to keep the Brazilian at bay. Dern wanted to get the fight to the ground but she ended up in bottom position after attempting a throw, with Xiaonan quickly getting back to her feet.

In the second round Dern pulled guard, content to work from bottom position if she could get the fight to the ground. She looked for an omoplata and used the submission attempt to reverse position.

From there she looked to secure an arm triangle and transitioned into mount. Dern landed some punches and Xiaonan gave up her back but with barely a minute remaining in the round she was able to hang on until the bell.

In the third Dern looked to pull guard again but couldn’t keep Xiaonan down. The Chinese fighter fired off some hard right hands and by the time the BJJ black belt did secure a takedown the round was virtually over.

Late comeback

Xiaonan also found a home for her right hand in the fourth round with Dern frustrated in her attempts to get the fight down, when she finally succeeded it was her opponent who landed in top position and then stalled until the end of the round.

It left the Brazilian with a mountain to climb on the scorecards heading into the fifth and final round. But this time Dern got the early takedown and Xiaonan couldn’t get up.

The Brazilian had time to work and with seconds remaining in a very one sided round she secured an armbar but Xiaonan somehow slipped out and survived. It call came down to how the judges scored the final round, but only one of them gave Dern the 10-8 with the other two scoring it 10-9.

It means a majority decision win for Xiaonan with the cards reading 48-47,48-47 and 47-47 in her favour. She improves to 16-3 while Dern drops to 12-3.


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Celebrity guest

Both Mark Zuckerberg and his wife were cageside, the Facebook founder recently declared he had been training MMA with Khai Wu. They were treated to four first round finishes on an entertaining evening at the Apex Centre.

UFC Vegas 61, Las Vegas, October 1st
Yan Xiaonan def. Mackenzie Dern by Decision (Majority)
Randy Brown def. Francisco Trinaldo by Decision (Unanimous)
Raoni Barcelos def. Trevin Jones by Decision (Unanimous)
Sodiq Yusuff def. Don Shainis by Submission (Guillotine choke) at 0:30 of R1
Mike Davis def. Viacheslav Borshchev by Decision (Unanimous)
Daniel Santos def. John Castaneda by KO (Punches and knee) at 4:28 of R2
Ilir Latifi def. Aleksei Oleinik by Decision (Unanimous)
Joaquim Silva def. Jesse Ronson by TKO (Flying knee and punches at 3:08 of R2
Brendan Allen def. Krzysztof Jotko by Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 4:17 of R1
Chelsea Chandler def. Julija Stoliarenko by TKO (Punches) at 4:15 of R1
Guido Cannetti def. Randy Costa by Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 1:04 of R1