UFC Vegas 61 Review: Yan Xiaonan makes a statement!

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Published on 2 Oct 2022 1:16 pm (UK Time)

Entering tonight’s main event, women’s strawweight challenger Yan Xiaonan, had only fought in the United States three times. While she has achieved superstar status in her native land of China, she is relatively unknown in other countries where mixed martial arts has become a phenomenon. After tonight’s performance, Yan can expect to be slated to fight in Europe, the United States and South America; she has proven that she is able to beat top talent and is worthy of top billing. There’s a lot to unpack here; without further ado, let’s get into it!

Dern vs. Yan

Mackenzie Dern began training in combat sports when she was just three-years-old. Over the years, she has earned a reputation of possibly being the best grappler in the women’s strawweight division. All of her opponents are given the same pre-fight instructions by their corners: avoid high kicks because Dern will catch your leg in the air and drive you to the mat for a takedown. In round one of her fight against Yan Xiaonan, Dern did not wait for a kick to be thrown, instead she became the aggressor and tried with all her might to score a takedown without a setup maneuver.

Yan’s ability to stop Dern from scoring a takedown in the first round was impressive. However, the duties of constantly fighting against an attack eventually wore Yan down and she was spent by round two. In the second round, Dern took full advantage of the work she’d done in the first round and scored an easy takedown against her opponent. She was able to establish a shoulder lock, followed by an arm bar. However, Yan was able to escape out of each grasp and managed to survive the round.

In round three, Yan landed a huge overhand left strike that visibly stunned Dern. She dominated the round and swung the momentum of the fight back in her favor. In round four, Yan scored a takedown against Dern, which was a shocking role reversal that no one expected. Heading into round five, Dern understood she was down on the scorecards and needed an incredible final round to emerge victorious.

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Dern started the fifth and final round extremely aggressive. She was able to break through Yan’s defense and score a takedown in the first minute of the round. Dern dominated the round with ground control but it was ultimately not enough to secure a victory. Yan Xiaonan was awarded a split decision victory. Although this was her first main event appearance, it certainly won’t be her last.

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Brown vs. Trinaldo

At 44-years-old, Francisco Trinaldo is one of the oldest men to ever appear in a UFC event. In addition to that, the 5’9″ octagon veteran, was dwarfed by his 6’2″ opponent, Randy Brown. Brown used his incredible height advantage to keep Trinaldo on the outside and make it very difficult for him to score.

Although he was at an a disadvantage due to height and age disparities, Trinaldo kept fighting to the end. In the third and final round he was able to score a takedown, which is a testament to his resolve to stay active and not concede victory. Overall, Brown’s consistency throughout the fight resonated with the judges and he was awarded a unanimous decision victory.

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Barcelos vs. Jones

Brazilian bantamweight challenger Roni Barcelos stayed active from start to finish in his bout against Trevin Jones. In round one, Barcelos started the action with a right-footed high kick that landed on Jones’ temple and set the tone for the matchup. Later, at the two-minute marker of the round, Barcelos scored a takedown; he would go on to dominate the rest of the period through significant ground control time.

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In round two, Barcelos combined his active striking with forward pressure. Jones is known as a counterpuncher but he was not able to respond to Barcelos’ attacks with strikes of his own. Midway through the round, Barcelos landed an overhand right that visibly wobbled Jones and served as a statement as to who was in control of the fight.

In round three, Jones decided to diversify his attack and executed a takedown attempt. Barcelos was able to avoid the maneuver with solid takedown defense and Jones’ plans were thwarted. For his efforts, Barcelos was awarded a unanimous decision victory.

Yusuff vs. Shainis

Sodiq Yusuff needed all of 30 seconds to force newcomer Don Shainis into a submission. From the opening bell, Yusuff grabbed Shainis by the head and began kneeing him to the body, which caused his energy to wilt. He then took Shainis to the mat and established a front-facing guillotine chokehold. As the referee knelt to the mat the see if the newcomer would fight back, Shainis tapped out. In his post-fight interview, Yusuff called out The Korean Zombie and said the two of them should meet in the octagon in a fight everyone would love to see.

Davis vs. Borshchev

Lightweight prospect Mike Davis returned to the octagon tonight after a two-year absence from competition. His opponent, Viacheslav Borshchev, tried to exploit the layoff by trying to tire Davis out but the tactic did not work.

Davis was able to score a total of four takedowns in the first round alone. By the end of the round, Davis was pummeling Borshchev with a barrage of punches and elbows. Borshchev was lucky the referee did not decide to stop the fight. Borshchev started round two by cleverly using calf kicks to score points, but Davis scored yet another takedown near the end of the round.

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A left jab by Borshchev, early in round three, broke Davis’ right orbital bone on impact. It was clear he was having trouble seeing and he continuously held his glove to his face to protect his eye. However, Davis’ grappling skills saved him from a collapse; he was able to score a takedown midway through the round and gather a considerable amount of ground control time to end the fight. For his efforts, Davis was awarded a unanimous decision victory.

Major Takeaways

Trevin Jones is an elite prospect in the bantamweight division. However, he was outclassed tonight by Roni Barcelos because Barcelos was more active from start to finish. Jones has declared himself the best counterpuncher in mixed martial arts. He may want to rethink that strategy. Instead of waiting for his opponent to attack, he has to initiate the contact himself. He has lost multiple decisions due to inactivity and tonight was yet another example. If he is going to reach his full potential, he must abandon the counterpunching strategy on nights when it is not working.

What’s Next

The UFC returns on October 15th with another edition of Fight Night from the Apex Center in Las Vegas. The main event of the evening will feature women’s flyweight up-and-comer Alexa Grasso versus Viviane Araujo. As always, we’ll have all the latest updates about the outcomes of the fights, as well as in depth analysis, available right here at World in Sport!

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