Yan Xiaonan is ready to kickstart a new chapter in her Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) career on the highest note imaginable.
After her most recent win against Mackenzie Dern via majority decision (watch highlights) in her first UFC main event, Yan signed a new six-fight contract starting with her next fight. The significant pay increase is “way more” than her last fight, which only fuels the Chinese star to work that much harder and further prove her worth.
Back on track in a Strawweight division that has some question marks amongst top contenders, Yan looks to stand tallest after what would be a huge potential win over a former divisional titlist, Jessica Andrade, at UFC 288 on May 6, 2023, in Newark, New Jersey.
“I think if I can win this fight I definitely deserve to be the next title challenger,” Yan told MMA Mania. “Because if you look at our division, Carla [Esparza], Rose [Namajunas], they may be out for a while.
“There are rumors that Amanda Lemos may fight [the champion Zhang] Weili next but we don’t know,” she added. “Nothing has been announced yet but I do believe that if I win over Jessica, I think I deserve a title shot, for sure.”
A battle between two of China’s very best, Yan and the champion, Zhang, has captivated fans who have followed the careers of both for years. Ideally, a clash for the title in China seems like a dream scenario not only for the fighters and fans but UFC as well.
Unfortunately for Yan and Zhang, it’s been desired to such strengths in their country that things often get taken out of context or drummed up for drama that doesn’t exist. Yan wasn’t too fond of the instances when first stumbling across them, but now can identify the benefits.
“Sometimes I view some articles or news from the Chinese media,” Yan said. “They always compare me and Weili for no reason. Probably just to generate some clicks or viewership. So, I guess if they always talk about this — ‘The China Derby’ — there’s probably some interest among the Chinese and they want to see us fight against each other. But who knows?
“I was pretty annoyed when I saw them always put mine and Weili’s names together,” she continued. “It’s like creating some beef between us. So, I dislike that, but now I’ve pretty much accepted it because I figured out even if they make some bulls—t, crazy things, it can generate some followers or viewers on social media. So, it’s okay. It’s not that bad.”
Despite what may be seen or read in headlines back home, Yan has no issues with Zhang, and their encounters have been nothing but cordial. “Fury” stayed in Las Vegas, Nevada for a few extra weeks after the Dern win, running into the champion at UFC’s Performance Institute (P.I.). While on good terms, the top contender still feels an awkward energy between the two seemingly because of the stories they’ve both been the subjects of.
Zhang will certainly have her eyes on the Yan vs. Andrade collision. No matter the outcome, it could provide “Magnum” with her next challenger.
“Jessica is definitely one of the greatest female athletes in the MMA world,” Yan said. “She’s a former champion, former challenger, she’s fought in the strawweight division, flyweight division, she fought at bantamweight before. She is a very, very good fighter, a tough opponent, but I do want to challenge her because if I can beat her it will prove I’m the better one.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 288 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 288: “Sterling vs. Cejudo” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.