Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns later TONIGHT (Sat., Oct. 1, 2022) to stage UFC Vegas 61 from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the event — which will be closed to the public and media — will be a women’s Strawweight fight between Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan. Co-headlining the ESPN+-streamed event will be Randy Brown taking on Francisco Trinaldo.
Dern has been hot and cold throughout her UFC career. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu sensation does sport a nice record of 12-2 in her professional career, but those two losses have come when she needed the win the most. Had she defeated Amanda Ribas, her stock would’ve gone way up in just her third UFC fight. She did bounce back to win four straight but ultimately came up short against Marina Rodriguez in what would have likely earned her a title shot with the win. Now, I’m not saying Dern is questioning herself but when you hear her say she prefers to fight two former champions and top contenders instead of a title shot should she prove victorious Saturday night, you do start to wonder why. She is already nine fights deeps into her UFC career so she is far from a novice and she is currently ranked No. 5 in the division. Dern has all the talent in the world and she has improved leaps and bounds after each fight. She dominated Tecia Torres in her previous outing and is now looking for her second straight win against Yan, who is in desperate need of a win herself.
After starting her UFC career with six straight wins, Yan has lost her last two, putting her in the position to either win in order to keep herself in the Top 10, or suffer a third straight defeat and possibly tumble her way out. Losses to the current champion, Carla Esparza, and top contender, Marina Rodriguez, are nothing to be ashamed of, but another loss would be bad for her future championship aspirations. She won’t get to the front of the line if she defeats Dern, but she will keep hope alive and remain in the Top 10, possibly moving into the Top 5. If it goes to the ground, Dern has the advantage. And while it’s easy to say Yan — who has seven wins by knockout/technical knockout (TKO) on her resume — is the favorite on the feet, Dern has been working hard to improve in that area over the last few years. That said, her bread and butter is the jiu-jitsu game and that will be the best path to victory.
Okay, so this might be a personal thing…but why is everyone making a big deal about the APEX being closed for this event? It’s one event. The public and the media went months without access to live events during the rampant COVID-19 era, and now it’s a big deal? Even if multi-billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, did rent out the joint for his family and friends, it’s not that huge of a story, if you ask me (shrugs shoulders).
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Cody Garbrandt suffered an injury and his fight against Rani Yahya — which was set to co-headline the card — was scrapped for the second time. After Cheyanne Vlismas was forced to bow out of the fight against Tabathi Ricci for personal reasons, she was replaced by longtime veteran, Jessica Penne, who then suffered an illness prior to weigh-ins and was forced out of the fight. Uros Medic was removed from his fight against Mike Davis for undisclosed reasons and replaced by Viacheslav Borshchev. And finally, a Heavyweight slugfest between Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Chris Daukaus was yanked from this event and moved to UFC 282 to bolster the year-end pay-per-view (PPV) event.
Vinc Pichel was forced out of his scheduled fight against Jesse Ronson with an injury and was replaced by Joaquim Silva, who comes into the undercard fight with two straight losses. Ronson, meanwhile, is out to get back into the win column after he was submitted by Rafa Garcia in his previous bout.
Former Invicta FC contender Chelsea Chandler will make her Octagon debut when she battles Julija Stoliarenko in a catchweight fight of 140-pounds. Chandler is on a four-fight win streak while Stoliarenko is coming off a huge win over Jessica-Rose Clark, submitting her at UFC 276 with a slick armbar this past summer.
Winner of five straight, Don Shainis will get his first taste of UFC action when he steps into the cage to take on a very tough opponent in Sodiq Yussuff. Speaking of Yussuff, he is 5-1 inside the Octagon and is coming off a great victory over Alex Caceres earlier this year.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Ilir Latifi managed to snap his three-fight losing streak by narrowly escaping with a split-decision win over Tanner Boser in his previous fight. Another loss could have prompted UFC to cut him, but he now has a new lease on his combat life heading into his Heavyweight fight against Aleksei Oleinik. Interestingly enough, Oleinik also snapped his three-fight skid recently by taking out Jared Vanderaa via, you guessed it, submission at UFC 273.
Brendan Allen is eying his first three-fight win streak in three years when he battles Krysztof Jotko in a Middleweight affair. Allen has shown promise during his UFC stint but hasn’t been able to be consistent enough to rack up a winning streak of more than two since 2019. He has the chance to do so here against Jotko, who has won two straight, more recently defeating Gerald Meerschaert in April.
Maxim Grishin is due for a loss. No, I’m not saying he is going to lose, it’s just that he’s been alternating wins and losses since 2020 and since he is coming off a victory over William Knight at UFC 271, history tells us a defeat could be around the corner. Grishin will attempt to break that pattern, however, when he takes on Philipe Lins, who got back in the win column and snapped his two-fight losing streak in the process by defeating Marcin Prachnio this past April.
Randy Costa is in desperate need of a win after dropping back-to-back fights to Adrian Yanez and Tony Kelley. Guido Cannetti, meanwhile, is happy to be back on track after his horrid three-fight losing streak came to an end when he knocked out Kris Moutinho earlier this year. Now the two 135-pounders will get it on to see who takes a big step forward in the stacked division.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Raoni Barcelos was once considered a future title contender by some after starting off his UFC career with five straight wins. But now that the former RFA Featherweight champion has suffered two straight defeats, those thoughts have gone out the window. And so can his spot on the UFC roster if he comes up short for the third consecutive time when he takes on Trevin Jones — who has also lost two straight — in the Bantamweight division. As a matter of fact, this could very well be a loser leaves town match.
Interest Level: 5/10
It’s an okay card but there isn’t anything really that jumps out at you. Even the main event doesn’t appeal to some. Furthermore, when you couple the fact that Bellator 286 — which is loaded with great matchups — is taking place simultaneously, the ratings for ESPN+ won’t be all that great.
In the co-main event, longtime veteran, Francisco Trinaldo, will return to take part in UFC fight number 26 to take on Randy Brown. Trinaldo has done pretty damn good over the last few years, winning his last two fights to improve to 5-1 since 2019. So when people ask why he is still fighting at age 44, it’s because he can still crack. He has a stiff test ahead of him in Brown, who is on a three-fight win streak and is also 5-1 since 2019. I like this fight a lot.
In further main card action, John Castaneda will battle Daniel Santos in a pivotal 135-pound bout. Castaneda is a young stud who is finding his footing after he stumbled out of the gates in his UFC debut, losing to Nathaniel Wood in 2020. Since then he has gone on to win two straight fights and is looking for the first three-fight win streak of his career in five years. Santos also came out of the gate a loser in his UFC debut, coming up short against Julio Arce earlier this year. Another loss could cut his UFC career short.
In the Lightweight division, Mike Davis will attempt to rack up consecutive win number three inside the world-famous Octagon when he battles late replacement, Viacheslav Borshchev, who had his four-fight win streak snapped by Marc Diakiese earlier this year.
If you’re an MMA fan it’s a great night since both Bellator and UFC will be putting on events for your viewing pleasure. That said, enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 61 Main Event On ESPN+:
115 lbs.: Mackenzie Dern vs. Xiaonan Yan
UFC Vegas 61 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Randy Brown vs. Francisco Trinaldo
135 lbs.: Raoni Barcelos vs. Trevin Jones
145 lbs.: Sodiq Yusuff vs. Don Shainis
135 lbs.: John Castaneda vs. Daniel Santos
155 lbs.: Viacheslav Borshchev vs. Mike Davis
UFC Vegas 61 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Ilir Latifi vs. Aleksei Oleinik
115 lbs.: Jessica Penne vs. Tabatha Ricci (CANCELLED)
155 lbs.: Jesse Ronson vs. Joaquim Silva
185 lbs.: Brendan Allen vs. Krzysztof Jotko
205 lbs.: Maxim Grishin vs. Philipe Lins
145 lbs.: Chelsea Chandler vs. Julija Stoliarenko
135 lbs.: Randy Costa vs. Guido Cannetti
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 61 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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