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Yan Xiaonan explains how she was ‘not ready’ for Carla Esparza fight, ‘surprised’ UFC gave her Marina Rodriguez – MMA Root



Yan Xiaonan explains how she was ‘not ready’ for Carla Esparza fight, ‘surprised’ UFC gave her Marina Rodriguez

UFC bantamweight Yan Xiaonan has no regrets, but admits mistakes were made prior to her first Octagon loss to Carla Esparza last May.

According to Yan, the problems began immediately after she received an offer to fight the former UFC flyweight champion, and since then the problems have only escalated.

“The biggest takeaway from my last fight is that I wasn’t 100 percent ready for this fight,” Yang told MMA Fighting. “Despite the fact that I thought I was ready for this fight, I was not.

“The whole preparation for training camp was pretty disorganized. Because I got an offer to fight Carla Esparza in February, but I already booked a trip back to China. So I decided to return to China. When I arrived I was in a 21 day quarantine so I could only train in the hotel alone. Then after the quarantine, I trained in China, and then for about a month again in the USA. So many back and forth. The whole training camp is just a little disorganized.”

She paid for that mistake with a lopsided loss to Esparza, who earned a TKO in the second round, ending Yan’s 12-fight unbeaten streak, including six consecutive UFC victories.

Heading into this match, Yang felt that a win would make a title fight inevitable. Now it looks like Esparza will get his next fight with reigning flyweight champion Rose Namajunas. Even though losing this fight broke her heart, Yang can’t help but agree that the ex-champ got this opportunity.

“I think Carla deserves a title shot,” she said. “: I saw the news on social networks that Dana White agreed to have Carla fight for the belt. So I think she deserves it and she’s good enough to fight for the title.”

As for the changes Yang has made to prevent another bad exit, she has moved to Sacramento where she has been training full-time with Team Alpha Male trainers and fighters since September of this year.

“Due to COVID, it is difficult to return to China due to quarantine and travel restrictions,” Yang explained. “Therefore, we will lose a lot of time, almost a month, and we will not be able to train well. That’s why I decided to just stay in the US and train with Team Alpha Male.

“The main reason I made the decision to join Team Alpha Male was because I saw the improvement of Son Yadong, another UFC fighter, and he has improved a lot since he started training with Urijah Faber. So I decided that I would also come here and start training with [Urijah] Faber. This is the main reason.”

Yan praises Team Alpha Male and former WEC Champion Faber for making her better.

“I think their understanding of MMA has opened my eyes, and especially they are still learning new techniques every day,” she said. “Some of the new techniques I have never seen before. As for Uriah, his passion also teaches me because he comes to the gym very early and is the last to leave the gym. That’s what I’m learning from them.”

Yang had no expectations as to what matchup the UFC would offer given her rather one-sided defeat. When she received a call to fight at UFC 272 against Marina Rodriguez, considered by many to be the next fighter in line for a title fight after Esparza, she couldn’t be happier.

“I am very happy with this match,” said Jan. “I was even a little surprised when I heard that the UFC offered me this fight against Marina Rodriguez, whose rating is higher than me. So I really like this match.”

The fight won’t necessarily erase what happened in Yan’s previous performance, but it will definitely put her back on the right track.

“Her punches are very, very good,” Yang said of Rodriguez. “I studied her fights a lot, even before I knew that I would fight her. Her combinations and her remote control are extraordinary. She is a really good match for me.

“I think if I can win this fight and we both do our best, I will give the UFC an extraordinary, exciting fight. I think then I will have a chance to fight for the belt.”