Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC 288, we are going to see a potential title eliminator in the strawweight division. Former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (24-10) returns to the division where she once reigned as she takes on top contender Yan Xiaonan (16-3).
It’s been a very interesting few years for Jessica Andrade. After winning the title against Rose Namajunas back in 2019, she immediately lost it to Zhang Weili just a few months later. She then lost a close decision to Rose Namajunas and moved up to 125.
After a first round finish over Katlyn Chookagian, she was given a title shot against Valentina Shevchenko. It didn’t go well. However, she then fought Cynthia Calvillo at 125 and stopped her in the first round. From there, the former UFC champ decided to move down to 115 again and submitted Amanda Lemos.
Just when she looked to be back in the title picture, she took back-to-back fights at 125 including a short-notice fight against Erin Blanchfield which she was dominated in. Now, she’s back at 115 and looking to get back to the UFC title.
Yan Xiaonan won her first six fights in the UFC and looked primed to be a title contender. Then, she ran into Carla Esparza and lost by TKO. After that, she lost a razor close split decision to Marina Rodriguez. She bounced back well with a decision win over Mackenzie Dern. If she’s able to defeat Andrade, it will go a long way and could earn her a title shot.
UFC 288 Prediction
In this fight, I really do like the volume striking and speed of Yan Xiaonan. I think she can have success if she keeps this fight at range and uses a lot of kicks. However, keeping any fight at range against Jessica Andrade is much easier said than done.
Andrade is so explosive and fast when she closes the distance. Not too mention she also hits harder than probably anyone in the division. If she connects on Xiaonan, she’s going to do damage. Honestly, she’s the one fighter at 115 outside of the champion who you feel like she always has that nuclear option.
That nuclear option is hard to bet against and I’m not going to. While I think Xiaonan can have success here, I think the former UFC champion will eventually catch her. Either late in the first or early in the second round, Andrade unloads her power and gets Xiaonan out of there.
Prediction: Jessica Andrade by TKO