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Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan are set to step into the UFC Octagon on Saturday night with the goal of establishing themselves as potential players in the women's strawweight title scene. The 115-pound showdown headlines the UFC Fight Night card from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET).

The fight is a critical one for Xiaonan (15-3), in particular. The native of China will enter the cage on a two-fight losing skid, having suffered a TKO loss to Carla Esparza and dropping a split decision to Marina Rodriguez in a fight many felt Xiaonan had done enough to win. Those losses came after a 12-fight winning streak, including six wins in the Octagon.

After seven knockout wins in the first 10 bouts of her career, Xiaonan has not picked up a single stoppage win in the nine fights since (including one no contest in 2016).

Dern (12-2) also suffered a recent loss to Rodriguez, losing by decision in October 2021. She rebounded in April with a split decision win over Tecia Torres. The fight with Torres was a very close bout, which was not only a split on the official scorecards but in the eyes of the media, with Torres taking slightly more than half of the media scores tracked by

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While Dern has never scored a knockout victory, she is still a vicious finisher. A highly-decorated jiu-jitsu star, Dern has brought those submission skills to mixed martial arts, with seven of her 12 career victories ending with her opponent tapping out.

Speaking with CBS Sports ahead of the fight, Dern cited a need to get "mean" with her grappling again after feeling that she had let Rodriguez and Torres off the hook in their fights.

"When I go to submit, I can't think these girls are going to tap," Dern said. "You don't want to be mean and you don't want to see people get hurt but, at the same time, if she could cut me open or whatever, she would. I'm always thinking 'technique, technique.' If I just rip it off and don't give them a chance to tap, I might pull their shoulder and they may need surgery or something like that. But at the end of the day, we signed up for this. If I give her time to think, I settle for, 'I'll get her on the next one...' No, I need to just do it. Just be mean."

Xiaonan has only been submitted once in her career, tapping to a rear naked choke on a card in Singapore in 2010 in just the fourth fight of her career. 

The undercard fills out with a few interesting matchups. Randy Brown looks to extend his winning streak to four when he takes on Francisco Trinaldo at welterweight. Brown has won five of his last six since 2019 with the lone loss coming against Vicente Luque. Plus, Raoni Barcelos is set to take on Trevin Jones at bantamweight and Sodiq Yusuff battles Don Shainis in a featherweight contest.

"[Uncle] got power," Brown said at media day. "We know [uncle] got power, we've seen it. He's always bringing crazy energy when he fights, he's a little Tasmanian devil. He's older now so he's slowing down and you could see that. But still, what's the last thing to go with age? That power. You see him coming up and putting welterweights away so I'd be a fool to be like, 'Oh well, I just need to coast and get through the rounds.' Nah, he's coming with that energy and I'm gonna have to meet him halfway just like that. So, a ton of respect but [uncle] gotta get it."

UFC Fight Night fight card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

FavoriteUnderdogWeight class
Mackenzie Dern -240 Yan Xiaonan +200 Women's strawweight
Randy Brown -310 Francisco Trinaldo +250 Welterweight
Raoni Barcelos -240 Trevin Jones +200 Bantamweight
Sodiq Yusuff -900 Don Shainis +600 Featherweight
John Castaneda -180 Daniel Santos +155 140-pound catchweight
Mike Davis -180 Viacheslav Borshchev +155 Lightweight


Dern is a very reckless defensively. She also has a tendency to willingly engage in sloppy striking exchanges where her grappling could give her a much easier path to victory. Xiaonan has good movement and striking, but she also can lean on trying to outmuscle opponents when they're able to pressure her.

It's basically a certainty that Xiaonan won't be able to brute force her way out of clinches or outscramble Dern if the fight hits the floor. Assuming Xiaonan doesn't suddenly find her power against high-level fighters and Dern doesn't decide to just chase Xiaonan while trying to turn the fight into a brawl on the feet, it feels pretty clear that the biggest question heading into the fight is whether Dern scores the submission or if she wins on the cards. Pick: Mackenzie Dern via submission, Round 2

Who wins Dern vs. Yan? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC Fight Night, all from the incomparable expert who's up more than $13,000 on MMA in the past three years, and find out.