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'UFC Fight Night 211: Dern vs. Yan' fight-by-fight preview

Breaking down Saturday's Las Vegas fight card from top to bottom.

Mackenzie Dern vs. Yan Xiaonan

Top 10 strawweights Mackenzie Dern (12-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) and Yan Xiaonan (15-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) get the main event assignment in the first of four events slated to hit the octagon in October.

After landing on the wrong side of the results in her first main event assignment last October, Dern returned to the win column with a split decision victory over perennial tough out Tecia Torres at UFC 273 in April. The 29-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace is now 12-2 overall and has won five of her last six, showing continual improvements in her striking and conditioning while solidifying her place just outside the championship picture in the 115-pound weight class.

Yan won six straight to begin her UFC tenure, a run that pushed her overall unbeaten streak to 13, but she's suffered setbacks in each of her last two appearances. She was finished by current champ Carla Esparza in the spring of 2021, then returned in March and dropped a split decision to Marina Rodriguez at UFC 272.

This is an interesting matchup that presents very different opportunities for each competitor, it would seem. For Dern, a dominant win could catapult her into the thick of the title conversation, while Yan can change the complexion of the title chase by turning her back, staving off any further slippage in the rankings in the process if she's triumphant.

Both women have a great deal to prove in this one, so expect an action-packed battle to close things out on Saturday.

Randy Brown vs. Francisco Trinaldo

Randy Brown (15-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) and Francisco Trinaldo (28-8 MMA, 18-7 UFC) clash in this competitive matchup between welterweight talents looking to take another step closer to cracking the top 15.

Brown touches down in Las Vegas on a three-fight winning streak and sporting a 5-1 mark over his last six appearances; the lone setback coming against Brazilian finisher Vicente Luque. The rangy New Yorker edged out Khaos Williams on the card in his last appearance at UFC 274, and looks to get back to the form that produced finishes over Alex Oliveira, Warlley Alves, and Bryan Barberena earlier in his career.

Father Time eventually catches up with everyone, but he's still trying to chase down Trinaldo. Like his opponent, the 44-year-old Brazilian also scored a win on the cards at UFC 274 and has won five of his last six outings, showing that despite his increasing age, there is still plenty left in the tank.

Can Brown secure the kind of finish that elevates his profile in the competitive 170-pound field or will "Massaranduba" collect a third straight win to further distance himself from Father Time?

Raoni Barcelos vs. Trevin Jones

Raoni Barcelos (16-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and Trevin Jones (13-8 MMA, 1-2 UFC) meet in this clash between entertaining bantamweights looking to get things moving in the right direction again.

After earning five straight wins to begin his UFC tenure, Barcelos enters Saturday night's card on a two-fight skid. Last time out, the Brazilian veteran dropped a unanimous decision to newcomer Victor Henry at UFC 270.

Jones began his octagon adventure with a pair of strong outings against Timur Valiev and Mario Bautista, but since then, "5 Star" has fallen to Saidyokub Kakhramonov and Javid Basharat in back-to-back bouts. With quick, powerful hands and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, the 32-year-old native of Guam will look to get back on track by extending Barcelos' run of negative results on Saturday.

Bantamweight is the best division in the sport right now by a country mile and despite the recent struggles, these two are very much a part of the fabric of the UFC's 135-pound ranks. Both men like to start quickly and are dangerous no matter where the fight goes, so expect a competitive, exciting affair right out of the gates this weekend at the Apex.

Sodiq Yusuff vs. Don Shainis


Featherweight standout Sodiq Yusuff (12-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) makes his second appearance of 2022 this weekend, stepping in against short-notice newcomer Don Shainis (12-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

Yusuff was initially scheduled to face Giga Chikadze on September 17, but the former kickboxer suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw. Now the Dana White's Contender Series graduate looks to build on his March win over veteran Alex Cacares by welcoming Shainis to the octagon for the first time on Saturday.

Shainis landed on the UFC radar earlier this year with a win over Chris Lencioni at FAC 12 when the "Lookin' for a Fight" crew was in town. He's earned three additional victories since then, including a first-round stoppage win over UFC vet Cody Pfister, sending him into this one brimming with confidence and eager to shake up the featherweight division.

This is a high-risk, low-reward fight for Yusuff and the exact opposite for Shainis, which makes it an intriguing addition to Saturday's fight card. Both men do their best work on the feet, so expect a striking battle for as long as this one lasts.

John Castaneda vs. Daniel Santos

John Castaneda (19-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) takes on Daniel Santos (9-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a bantamweight scrap slated to hit the octagon on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Castaneda got called up to the UFC in July 2020, replacing Umar Nurmagomedov opposite Nathaniel Wood on Fight Island. Since dropping that fight by decision, the 30-year-old Minnesotan has earned back-to-back stoppage victories, following his February 2021 win over Eddie Wineland with a third-round submission finish of Miles Johns in February.

Nine wins in 10 starts landed Santos a chance to compete in the octagon, but unfortunately for the Brazilian, things didn't go his way in his debut. The 27-year-old Chute Boxe Diego Lima representative dropped a unanimous decision to Julio Arce at UFC 273 in April, and now looks to get back to the form that produced six stoppages in his past seven victories when he steps in with Castaneda this weekend.

Standing out in the bantamweight division is a tall order these days, and despite a pair of impressive finishes in his last two outings, Castaneda is still battling to break through. A win over Santos isn't likely to elevate him too much further in the hierarchy, but a third consecutive finish should land him a step up in competition next time out.

As for Santos, this is an opportunity to instantly reverse his fortunes following a disappointing debut effort. A big effort over Castaneda would not only show he belongs but elevate him into the middle of the pack in the loaded bantamweight ranks.

Mike Davis vs. Viacheslav Borshchev

If you're looking for a frontrunner for "Fight of the Night," look no further than this lightweight fixture between Mike Davis (9-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Viacheslav Borshchev (6-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC).

Fighting for the first time in more than 600 days, Davis looks to build on his two-fight winning streak as he finally returns to action. After knocking out Thomas Gifford in the third round to secure his first UFC win, "Beast Boy" handed Mason Jones the first loss of his career in his last appearance, extending his record to 9-2 in the process.

A member of last year's Dana White's Contender Series graduating class, Borshchev won his promotional debut in January with a first-round body-shot finish of Dakota Bush, but got out-wrestled by Marc Diakiese in his sophomore showing. Now "Slava Claus" tags in for Uros Medic here, eager to get himself back in the win column and headed in the right direction once more.

Each of these men has sharp, powerful boxing, so putting them together in the octagon this weekend feels like a recipe for a real banger early in the night.

Ilir Latifi vs Aleksei Oleinik

Hopefully the third time is the charm as veterans Ilir Latifi (15-8 MMA, 8-6 UFC) and Aleksei Oleinik (60-16-1 MMA, 9-7 UFC) are once again scheduled to face off in heavyweight action this weekend.

Latifi returned to the heavyweight division for the first time in more than a decade at UFC 247, dropping a debated split decision to Derrick Lewis. He remained at heavyweight for his lone appearance of last year, edging out Tanner Boser on the scorecards, and looks to secure a second straight victory in the big boy ranks by toppling Oleinik this weekend in Columbus.

Oleinik picked up career win No. 60 in April, navigating some early trouble before forcing Jared Vanderaa to submit to a scarf hold choke in the opening round of their clash at UFC 273. The victory snapped a three-fight slide for the 45-year-old Oleinik, who continues to draw closer to 80 professional appearances and looks to continue adding to his one-of-a-kind resume this weekend.

The duo were first slated to face off in March as part of the UFC's return to Columbus, Ohio, only for Latifi to withdraw on the day of the fight due to illness. They were rescheduled for a couple weeks later at UFC 273, but the Swedish bulldozer was again scratched. After a pair of false starts, fingers crossed that the European veterans find their way into the Octagon together this time around.

Jessica Penne vs. Tabatha Ricci


Former title challenger Jessica Penne (14-6 MMA, 3-4 UFC) looks to get back into the win column, while "Baby Shark" Tabatha Ricci (7-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) aims to secure the biggest win of her career in this compelling strawweight battle on Saturday night.

Penne had a magical comeback campaign in 2021, returning from a four-year absence to secure wins over Loopy Godinez and Karolina Kowalkiewicz and show she's still someone to keep tabs on in the 115-pound weight class. She landed on the wrong side of things last time out against newcomer Emily Ducote, but looks to get right back into the win column by filling in for Cheyanne Vlismas here.

Ricci debuted up a division in the summer of 2021, losing to Manon Fiorot, but since returning to her natural surrounds, the Brazilian has earned consecutive victories to remain unbeaten at strawweight. Last time out, Ricci out-wrestled Polyana Viana, and now she faces easily her toughest fight to date in the 115-pound ranks.

Can Penne bounce back or will Ricci keep rolling?

Joaquim Silva vs. Jesse Ronson


Lightweight veterans looking to show they have what it takes to continue competing inside the octagon meet here, as Joaquim Silva (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) and Jesse Ronson (21-11 MMA, 0-4 UFC) face off in preliminary card action.

Silva began his career with 10 consecutive victories, including three straight UFC triumphs, but he's 1-3 since then. After suffering a second-round knockout loss to Nasrat Haqparast in August 2019, the Brazilian was out for nearly two years, only to return and get sparked in 37 seconds by Ricky Glenn last time out.

Ronson remains on the hunt for his first UFC victory as he makes his sixth walk to the octagon this weekend. After an 0-3 run against ultra-tough competition in his first tour of duty, the 36-year-old had a first-round submission win over Nicolas Dalby overturned due to a positive post-fight drug test before he suffered a second-round stoppage loss to Rafa Garcia in his most recent appearance.

Neither of these men is the "slowly work their way into a fight" type, so expect electricity from the outset when these lightweights with their backs against the wall get in there on Saturday.

Maxim Grishin vs. Philipe Lins

Veterans that have spent their careers shifting between weight classes meet here at light heavyweight, as Maxim Grishin (32-9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) squares off with Philipe Lins (15-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC).

Grishin fully intended for his last fight to be in the 205-pound weight class, but when his opponent William Knight missed weight, it was instead contested at heavyweight. The 38-year-old Russian outworked and outlasted Knight to earn a unanimous decision, giving him a 2-2 record through his first four UFC starts.

Lins returned to the light heavyweight ranks for the first time in nearly five years in April and looked like a new man, collecting a unanimous decision win over Marcin Prachnio. The Brazilian is 11-3 when fighting in the 205-pound ranks for his career, and it will be interesting to see if his victory in April can serve was the start of a run for the 37-year-old veteran.

Each man is looking to earn a victory and put together their first winning streak in the UFC, which should mean each arrive in top shape and ready to do whatever it takes to get their hand raised again this weekend.

Krzysztof Jotko vs. Brendan Allen

Krzysztof Jotko (24-5 MMA, 11-5 UFC) and Brendan Allen (19-5 MMA, 7-2 UFC) clash in this meeting of middleweights currently residing just outside the top 15.

Jotko really has been a consistent and valuable member of the 185-pound weight class throughout his UFC run, posting an 11-5 record, including consecutive victories over Misha Cirkunov and Gerald Meerschaert heading into this one. The Polish veteran is the kind of grimy, "good everywhere" battler that every division needs and the type of stern test hopefuls like Allen need to pass in order to land a number next to their name.

Still just 26 years old, Allen is back on the brink of working his way into the rankings, having earned back-to-back victories to once again gather a little momentum. The Kill Cliff FC representative and Louisiana native has stumbled in his two previous fights at this station, so it will be interesting to see how those losses to Sean Strickland and Chris Curtis influence his approach against Jotko this weekend.

Will Jotko secure a third straight win and inch closer to returning to the rankings, or can Allen keep moving forward and collect a third consecutive 2022 victory?

Julija Stoliarenko vs. Chelsea Chandler


After picking up her first UFC victory last time out, Julija Stoliarenko (10-6-1 MMA, 1-4 UFC) looks for a second straight win as she tags in to welcome Chelsea Chandler (4-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) to the UFC for the first time.

The 29-year-old Stoliarenko avoided a four-fight losing streak by securing a first-round submission win over Jessica-Rose Clark at UFC 276 in July. The submission specialist and former "The Ultimate Fighter" contestant is as tough as they come and is likely riding high after getting the monkey off her back last time out.

Born and raised in Stockton, California, Chandler represents Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu and carries a 4-1 record into her promotional debut on Saturday. After suffering a loss in her first pro appearance, the 28-year-old has rattled off four consecutive victories but will be returning to bantamweight for the first time since the summer of 2019.

Stoliarenko is a relentless competitor with a wealth of experience, while Chandler's ties to the 209 are sure to bring eyeballs, making this an intriguing early offering on Saturday's fight card.

Guido Cannetti vs. Randy Costa

Veteran bantamweights Guido Cannetti (9-6 MMA, 3-5 UFC) and Randy Costa (6-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) are tasked with opening the show this weekend in Las Vegas.

The 42-year-old Cannetti halted a three-fight slide with an impressive first-round stoppage win over Kris Moutinho in March. While it was just his third UFC win in nine starts, the performance showed that the veteran from Argentina is still dangerous and can still deliver entertaining efforts inside the octagon.

Costa has never been in a boring fight, but unfortunately for the likable Massachusetts native, his gas tank and durability have failed him in each of his last two appearances. While he always starts quickly, the 28-year-old has yet to win a fight that lasts longer than half-a-round, as solid early returns still resulted in losses to Adrian Yanez and Tony Kelley in 2021.

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