Exclusive | Mackenzie Dern targets a performance bonus win over Yan Xiaonan: “I see a submission coming”

Mackenzie Dern, Yan Xiaonan
Mandatory Credit: Zuffa LLC

Mackenzie Dern is set to face Yan Xiaonan at UFC Fight Night on Oct.1. The No. 5 strawweight spoke with Lowkick MMA’s Alex Behunin about her training camp, thoughts on Xiaonan and her fight prediction. 

Dern (12-2) last fought at UFC 273 in April, where she earned a split decision win over Tecia Torres. The 29-year-old has won five of her last six fights. She’s 6-2 in the UFC and has four submission wins since her debut in 2018. 

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt fights out of RVCA Training Center led by coach Jason Parillo. Since her last fight in April, Dern has stayed active in the gym. She believes her extended training camp has helped her better prepare for an important bout against Xiaonan.

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“I’m enjoying it because I’m getting so much better. I’m evolving so much in the gym so it’s exciting,” Dern said. “It’s exciting to see how I will do. I really hope to get a solid win in this fight.” 

Mackenzie Dern Believes Yan Xiaonan Is A Great Challenge

Xiaonan (15-3) is ranked No.6 in the strawweight rankings. The China native lost her last two fights against champion Carla Esparza and top contender Marina Rodriguez. Before then, she was on a 6-fight winning streak to start her UFC career. She has wins over Cláudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Angela Hill. 

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Dern sees her matchup with Xiaonan as the fight that makes the most sense in the strawweight division. She says the 33-year-old is a high volume striker who doesn’t back away from a scrap. 

“She’s tough, man. She’s athletic. Her high volume from when I see her punches, they sting,” Dern said. “It’s definitely a little bit better when I fight someone who engages more and that isn’t scared of the engagement or isn’t so strategic but I definitely see some holes [in] her on the ground.” 

With a headlining win over Xiaonan in October, Dern can position herself closer to a title shot. She has two goals for UFC Fight Night– get a finish over Xiaonan and earn the fourth bonus in her UFC career. 

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“I think [I win] by submission for sure. Hopefully performance of the night, that’s the goal. I’m trying to make that record for the strawweight division,” Dern said. “I have a long way to catch up to Charles “Do Bronx” [Oliveira] but I definitely am trying to get performance of the night…I see a submission coming.”

Marc Ray has lived his entire life in Houston, Texas, where he was born, raised and attended the University of Houston, studying broadcast journalism. As you may imagine, he spends much of his time watching mixed martial arts as part of his daily routine — not only to pump himself up, but also because he deeply enjoys the sport. Ray has worked for Houston Public Media, where he interned in the newsroom and produced community stories. Ray also created sports features in Houston for El Gato Media Network and occasionally produced content for an internship at AARP.