A potential strawweight title-eliminator between surging contender, Yan Xiaonan and inaugural UFC and Invicta FC 115-pound champion, Carla Esparza has been booked for a UFC Fight Night 192 event on May 22nd. — with a location or venue for the event yet to be determined by the promotion.
The matchup between Xiaonan and Esparza has been finalised following the promotion’s plans to push forward with a strawweight title matchup of Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas at UFC 261 in April. Esparza was considered as a possible opponent for Weili if terms couldn’t be reached with former titleholder, Namajunas, however, reports emerged last night detailing how a deal is expected to be reached to make Weili vs. Namajunas official in the next coming days.
Undefeated in her six-fight Octagon stint, Liaoning native, Xiaonan most recently took home a unanimous decision win over former title challenger, Claudia Gadelha at UFC Vegas 13 in November — earning her the #3 rank at 115-pounds.
In the midst of a four-fight undefeated streak, former champion, Esparza took her fourth straight decision win at UFC Fight Island 3 in July — nabbing a close split judging over Brazilian striker, Marina Rodiguez. News of the potential title-eliminator was first reported by MMA DNA reporter, Marcel Dorff.
Spearheading a talent pool of Asian mixed martial artists to transition to the UFC along with compatriot and current strawweight best, the above mentioned, Weili — Xiaonan holds a 13-1(1) professional record.
An eleven-year professional veteran, Xiaonan has managed five knockout wins in that period, notching Octagon triumphs over Kailin Curran, Viviane Pereira, Syuri Kondo, former Invicta FC champion, Angela Hill, as well as former strawweight title chasers, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and the aforenoted, Gadelha.
Esparza, the inaugural UFC and Invicta FC strawweight champion — toppled incoming title challenger, Namajunas at The Ultimate Fighter 20 finale back in December of 2014 via a third round rear-naked choke to lift UFC gold.
Dropping the title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first attempted title defence, the longtime Team Oyama trainee has managed to score promotional wins over Juliana Lima, Maryna Moroz, Cynthia Calvillo, Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, and the previously mentioned, Rodriguez since.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.