Mackenzie Dern to Fight Yan Xioanan on Saturday, October 1 in UFC Vegas 61 Headliner

On Saturday, October 1, Mackenzie Dern, the UFC’s female jiu-jitsu ace and current top-five flyweight contender, will be duking it out against Yan Xiaonan, a former Sanda kickboxer who’d previously gone undefeated in the UFC until suffering back-to-back losses against Carla Esparza and Marina Rodriguez. Dern vs. Yan will be the main event on the card, which will also see arm triangle aficionado John CastaƱeda throwing down with Brazil’s Daniel “Willycat” Santos, while 32-year-old welterweight Randy Brown takes on a grizzled UFC veteran in 44-year-old Francisco Trinaldo.

In a promotional video for the event released by the UFC’s official YouTube channel, Dern tells audiences, “The statement I’m hoping to make with this fight is that I’m constantly getting better, I’m evolving, I’m starting to be a more mature fighter, way more dangerous than I was before. I’m meant to be here, you know? I’m meant to be in the top five, I’m meant to be fighting for the belt.”

“Each fight, I train like it’s a title fight,” she continues. “Every fight is a battle, but it’s one more battle in the war, and the war is to be the champion. I’m ready. I’m ready to fight all the tough girls that they give me.”

Her opponent Yan Xiaonan, who was the first female fighter out of China to sign with the UFC, arguably helped pave the way for superstars like Yan’s friend, countrywoman, and sometimes training partner Zhang Weili, who made history back in 2019 as China’s first ever UFC champion.

Speaking through a translator, Yan Xiaonan states in the video, “My goal is the belt. When I first entered the UFC, my goal at the time was just to get into the UFC. But right now, my goal is to win the belt.”

Check out all the action this Saturday, October 1 at 7 PM EST on ESPN+.


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