There are currently only two Chinese fighters who are ranked in the UFC. One is strawweight champion Weili Zhang, and the other is #10 ranked Yan Xiaonan.

Yan actually arrived first and was the first female fighter from China to compete for the promotion. Hailing from the Liaoning province in the north east of the country, she is currently enjoying a ten fight winning streak and hasn’t lost a bout in over a decade.

Such is her form, that the 31-year-old believes she needs ‘just one more fight after beating Claudia Gadelha’ in order to get a shot at the title. She was all set to face the Brazilian at UFC 253 this weekend but, much to her disappointment, the fight was postponed until November because of her opponent’s injury.

“The day after I arrived Vegas, I was informed that Gadelha was hurt and couldn’t fight on UFC 253. At that moment I felt shocked and it was like losing my purpose. I didn’t know what exactly to do next. It has been several months that I prepared to fight against Gadelha. My team devoted a lot to this fight. In terms of postponing [the] bout, I can’t change anything but have to face it. Because I need this fight to prove myself. I will use this extra time to continue my focus in training.”

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Winning streak

Yan’s path to the UFC came via Road FC in Asia. The Korean promotion regularly features Chinese fighters and provided the perfect platform for Yan to make the next step up in competition,

“In my heart, I truly thank the period fighting in Road FC. I developed a good condition at that time, so when faced with the three great opponents, I showed my outstanding physical quality and technical skills. Road FC played an important role to my MMA career. I got the UFC contract after the UFC watched my past fight videos.”

The Chinese star first arrived in the UFC in 2017 with all five of her fights going the distance. Ultimately she believes that winning is the priority but would certainly like to add some finishes to her UFC resume,

“I am pretty satisfied with my performance. I have added more experience from last five fights. And now my condition is very good to make me step further. Mostly what I think in each fight is how to win. To be a winner is my initial pursuit. But definitely, a great finish, an insane knockout and a spectacular submission is what I expect to show the audience.”

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Local rivals

A win over #7 ranked Gadelha would help propel Yan towards the top of the division. And with Zhang holding the belt we could soon be in for what would be the biggest fight in the history of Chinese MMA,

“Since Zhang became a UFC champion it’s made more and more people know MMA and Chinese fighters. For our Chinese MMA fighters, we can clearly see that we have opportunity to become world champion as well. It would be a peak MMA fight in China, it would be eagerly-anticipated, eye-catching and attract a massive audience.”

Beating two top ranked strawweight opponents will certainly not be a straightforward task for Yan. But she can take a big step towards potentially securing a historic Chinese title shot by beating Gadelha in their postponed fight this November.