Yan Xiaonan vs Carla Esparza – UFC Vegas 27 Preview

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This Saturday’s UFC Vegas 27 event will feature two top five-ranked strawweights in the co-main event showdown. Yan Xiaonan vs. Carla Esparza will have two women who are both on winning streaks and are both looking to get the next title shot against Rose Namajunas.

Yan Xiaonan (13-1-0, 1 NC)

Yan Xiaonan was born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China, started fighting professional MMA in 2009 and has a background in Sanda. Her lone loss was in her third MMA fight way back in 2010. In the UFC, Xiaonan has held a perfect 6-0 record thus far in the strawweight division and will be looking to keep it that way in Yan Xiaonan vs Carla Esparza.

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Who Xiaonan has defeated on her path through the women’s strawweight division in the UFC is quite impressive. She is currently on an 11-fight win streak and holds wins over top contenders such Brazilian Claudia Gadelha (18-5), Poland’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-6) and American-born Angela Hill (13-9) in her last three. With her six UFC wins she is currently ranked number three in this division. 

Yan Xiaonan is a volume striker. In all of her UFC fights, she has out-struck her opponents by wide margins. In her last four fights her significant strike numbers, over her opponents, have been 74-36, 93-38, 94-71, and most impressively 150-86. Xiaonan holds a significant strikes landed per minutes stat of 6.42 which is quite high.

Carla Esparza (18-6)

“Cookie Monster” Carla Esparza has a wrestling background and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under the training of Rener and Ralek Gracie. Originally from Torrance, California, USA, she began her MMA career in 2010. She was The Ultimate Fighter 20 Tournament Winner, Invicta FC Strawweight Champion, and is a former UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion.

Esparza right now is on an impressive four-fight win streak in the women’s strawweight division and is currently ranked fourth. In 2014 Esparza won the Championship with a win over the current champion Rose Namajunas (10-4).

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Carla Esparza is primarily a controlling ground fighter. She seeks takedowns and looks to hold top position. In women’s strawweight history Esparza holds the record for top position control time, time at 47:40, and the record for most takedowns at 39, and she will be looking to get even more in Yan Xiaonan vs Carla Esparza.

Yan Xiaonan vs Carla Esparza

Yan Xiaonan vs Carla Esparza will see two top-five fighters who are hungry to make the case for a title shot. With a combined ten-fight win streak in the UFC, these two have nearly cleared out the entire division at this point. Each of Yan Xiaonan and Carla Esparza would be one win away from a title shot against Namajunas. Esparza would be looking to gain her title back and defeat Namajunas for the second time. Xiaonan is looking to make her country proud and make it a 12 fight win streak in MMA.

This fight will be a clash of two very different styles. Yan Xiaonan will be looking to keep the fight standing and looking to overwhelm Esparza with strikes, similar to what Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) was able to do to Esparza. While Carla Esparza will be looking to land takedowns and control Xiaonan. Xiaonan will come into this fight with a height advantage but will be equal in reach.

Yan Xiaonan vs Carla Esparza Tale of the Tape

Yan Xiaonan Name Carla Esparza
   13-1-0 (1 NC) Record 18-6-0
6-0 UFC Record 8-4
5 (T)KO 3
0 Sub. 4
5 ft 5 in (1.65 m) Height 5 ft 1 in (1.55 m)
63″ Reach 63″
115 lb (52 kg) Weight 115 lb (52 kg)
Orthodox Stance Orthodox
China Born USA
31 Age 33
3 Rank 4
42% Sig. Strike Accuracy 42%
63% Strike Defence 53%
6.42 Strikes Landed per Min. 2.29
1 Takedowns Average/15 min. 3.44
75% Takedown Accuracy 35%
75% Takedown Defence 48%

UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Garbrandt Main Card

Rob Font vs. Cody Garbrandt
Yan Xiaonan vs. Carla Esparza
Justin Tafa vs. Jared Vanderaa
Felicia Spencer  vs. Norma Dumont Viana
David Dvořák vs. Raulian Paiva
Jack Hermansson vs.  Edmen Shahbazyan

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Timothy Wheaton is a combat sports writer who covers MMA, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai. He has been an avid follower of these sports since 2005. Tim is a host alongside Frazer Krohn on the MMA Sucka Podcast.

With MMA Sucka, Tim has contributed interviews, articles, and podcasts. He has also represented MMA Sucka in person at live Bellator and GLORY Kickboxing events.

Tim also works with a host of other media sites such as Calf Kick Sports, Sportskeeda MMA, Low Kick MMA, Vecht Sport Info, Fighters First, and Beyond Kickboxing. Tim is is the authority on kickboxing and MMA journalist who has covered K-1, PRIDE FC, UFC, GLORY Kickboxing, Bellator, ONE Championship, and plenty more.

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