UFC Vegas 61 Main Event Preview: Mackenzie Dern – Yan Xiaonan

Daniel Cunningham
May 12, 2018; Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil; Mackenzie Dern reacts after defeating Amanda Cooper (not seen)​​​ during UFC 224 at Jeunesse Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

In the headliner of UFC Vegas 61, we are going to see a pivotal matchup in the women’s strawweight division. Top contender will battle it out as Mackenzie Dern (12-2) takes on Yan Xiaonan (15-3).

Dern will enter this contest fresh off her win against Tecia Torres that came back in April. It was a split decision win that came on the heels of her loss to Marina Rodriguez. That loss to Rodriguez snapped a four-fight winning streak for Dern.

Speaking of Marina Rodriguez, that is who Yan Xiaonan fought in her last fight. That fight took place at UFC 272 and Xiaonan lost a very close split decision. Personally, I scored the fight for Xiaonan, but two of the judges gave the fight to Rodriguez.

Xiaonan will enter the octagon tomorrow night on a two-fight losing streak. After winning her first six fights in the UFC, she lost back-to-back fights to Carla Esparza and Rodriguez.

UFC Vegas 61 Prediction

Tomorrow night’s main event is going to be a classic striker versus grappler. Thus far in her UFC career, we’ve seen very crisp and sharp striking from Yan Xiaonan. That is her bread and butter and she will look to keep the fight at range. She will do everything in her power to keep Mackenzie Dern off her.

Simply put, Mackenzie Dern has some of the best jiu jitsu in the UFC regardless of gender or weight class. When you touch the mat with her, it’s an accomplishment to not get submitted. So like Xiaonan’s game plan is to keep the fight standing, Dern needs to get this fight to the mat.

We’ve seen improved striking from Dern, but I don’t think she has the striking to defeat Xiaonan in a stand up fight. When it comes to this fight, I have a feeling it’s going to hit the mat at some point. Honestly, it might only take once.

I hate betting against a fighter of Xiaonan’s level especially coming off two losses, but I think Dern is going to sneak in a submission tomorrow night in the middle rounds. It’ll be a big night for Dern if that happens at UFC Vegas 61.

Prediction: Mackenzie Dern by Submission