Yan Xiaonan decisions Mackenzie Dern in UFC Vegas 61 main event

Women’s strawweight contenders Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan headlined Saturday’s UFC Vegas 61 fight card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Dern entered the bout ranked No. 5 in the women’s 115-pound division while Xiaonan sat in the No. 6 position in the rankings. Yan was trying to stop a two-fight losing streak while Dern was hoping to build off a win over Tecia Torres in her last outing. The match pitted an elite-level grappler against a precision striker.

Xiaonan landed punches in the early going. She used a sidekick to keep Dern on the outside and targeted Dern’s lead leg with kicks. Midway through the opening round Dern closed the distance, but was unable to get Xiaonan to the ground. Late in the frame, Dern dragged Xiaonan to the canvas, but couldn’t keep her there.

Xiaonan continued to utilized kicks in the second round. Dern pulled guard and pulled Xiaonan to the ground. She isolated a leg and then an arm. Dern quickly gained top position and began looking for submissions. Xiaonan defended the submission attempts. Dern advanced to the mount position and hammered away with punches. Xiaonan rolled and gave up her back. Dern continued to deliver punches.

The two exchanged on their feet in the opening moments of the third round before Dern pulled guard. Xiaonan worked her way back to her feet and Dern pressed forward. Xiaonan connected with a counter left hand that wobbled Dern. Dern recovered and Xiaonan went back to landing leg kicks. Dern secured a takedown with seconds remaining in the round.

Dern pressed the action to start the fourth round. She used punches to close the distance but was unable to get Xiaonan to the ground. Xiaonan’s right hand began to land more often. Dern worked to get the fight on the mat but Xiaonan landed in top position. The round ended with Dern working to secure an armbar.

Dern’s corner told her that she’s likely down three rounds to one and to bite down on the mouthpiece and take the fight to Xiaonan. Dern listened and pressed forward with punches.

Dern closed the distance and threw Xiaonan to the ground. She advanced to the mount position. Xiaonan rolled and gave up her back. Dern delivered punches. Dern isolated an arm and worked to extend it. Xiaonan slipped her arm free as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

After fifteen minutes of fighting, the judges scored the fight for Yan Xiaonan by majority decision. The scorecards read 48–47, 48–47, and 47–47.

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