In the main event of UFC Vegas 61, a top-10 strawweight bout headlined the card as Mackenzie Dern took on Yan Xiaonan.
Dern entered the fight coming off a split decision win over Tecia Torres to return to the win column after a five-round decision loss to Marina Rodriguez in her first UFC main event. Xiaonan, meanwhile, was set to headline her first UFC card and was coming off back-to-back losses to Rodriguez by split decision and a TKO loss to Carla Esparza.
In the end, it was Xiaonan winning a majority decision in a very close fight as one judge had it a draw. Now, after UFC Vegas 61, here is what I think should be next for both Xiaonan and Dern.
Yan Xiaonan picked up a much-needed win on Saturday night as she got the decision win to snap her losing streak and remain in the title mix. Xiaonan was solid on the feet but did continue to have struggled on the ground as Espzara exposed, which is a concern as she will continue to fight the best in the division.
With the strawweight title on the line at UFC 281, Xiaonan and the rest of the division will likely see how that plays out. But, a logical next fight is to face Rose Namajunas with the winner getting a title shot. Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos are booked for the number one contender bout leaving Xiaonan and Namajunas as the most logical booking to take place in early 2022, and it could also serve as the main event.
Mackenzie Dern is now 0-2 in main events and will need to string together a few wins in a row before getting back in the title mix. Dern will still be ranked in the top 10, but it’s clear she needs to improve on her wrestling so she can get the fight to the ground easier.
Dern will likely take some time off but if she decides to make a quick turnaround, the Brazil card at the end of January makes sense for her return. A step-down in competition also needs to happen but Dern has fought a lot of the lower-ranked opponents so facing the winner of Angela Hill vs. Emily Ducote makes sense for Dern as she looks to get back on track.
Who do you think should be next for Yan Xiaonan and Mackenzie Dern?