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Raoni Barcelos Feels The Positive Vibes

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The losses forced him to go back to the drawing board, make a few changes, and work harder than ever. Barcelos channeled that energy over the last nine months and believes he’s sharper than ever and in the perfect spot to get an emphatic victory.

“This training camp was completely different from any of the other ones,” Barcelos said. “You’re going to see a new Raoni with a different pace and a different fighting style. I’m coming back strong, and I want to put on a good performance and get a finish.”

MORE FIGHT NIGHT: Fighters On The Rise | Dern’s Interview With Megan Olivi |  The Best Of Dern  | Urijah Faber: „Xiaonan Yan Knows One Speed“  | Yan’s Ready For The Big Time

Barcelos sees Jones as a tough opponent, the type of guy who isn’t afraid to get into a brawl. That kind of matchup excites Barcelos and gives him confidence that he’ll be able to showcase this new and improved version of himself.

“I can’t say that this is a good fight for me because I have to be careful with all my opponent’s weapons, but what I can say is that I have to be focused on what I have to do to win,” Barcelos said. “I’m coming to execute my game and I’m planning on taking him to the ground and finishing the fight. Let me be clear, though, I’m ready for wherever it goes.”

Yan Xiaonan Takes Another Crack At Glory

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On the fast track to that goal after winning her first six UFC bouts, the Liaoning native hit a roadblock in her last two fights, as she was stopped by current strawweight champion Carla Esparza and then lost a split decision to fellow contender Marina Rodriguez. Now she needs to right her ship by beating Dern.

“She is one of the best grapplers in the division, a black belt in jiu-jitsu, so I think this is a classic striker versus grappler matchup, and I think our fight will let people know who the better MMA fighter is,” said Yan. “This is the biggest challenge to me so far because I lost to Marina Rodriguez. She lost to Marina as well, so if I can win over Mackenzie, that means that I come back to being a contender.”

FREE FIGHTS: Dern vs Nunes | Yan vs Kowalkiewicz

Yan is being modest, as she already sits in the number six spot in the 115-pound rankings, a slot below Dern, which means a win could put the 33-year-old back in the title conversation, something that was once a dream when the longtime Sanda practitioner saw Zhang for the first time and then began to train in an MMA gym.

By 2017, Yan had put together a 9-1, 1 NC record and she got the call to the UFC, where she became the first Chinese woman signed by the promotion.

Weigh-In Results | UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan

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UFC returns to UFC APEX with an exciting strawweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 5 ranked Mackenzie Dern clash with No. 6 Yan Xiaonan. An action-packed co-main event will see a showdown between exciting welterweights Randy Brown and Francisco Trinaldo.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT: DERN vs. YAN will take place Saturday, October 1 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card will be available exclusively on ESPN+ (English and Spanish), with the main card starting at 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT and the prelims at 4 pm ET / 1 pm PT.

Main event scheduled for five rounds. All other bouts scheduled for three rounds.

UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan Official Weigh-In Results:

Main Event Preview | UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan

Main Event Preview | UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan

MAIN CARD

Main Event – Women’s Strawweight Main Event: Mackenzie Dern () vs Yan Xiaonan (115.5)

Co-Main Event – Welterweight Bout: Randy Brown (170.5) vs Francisco Trinaldo (170)

Bantamweight Bout: Raoni Barcelos (135.5) vs Trevin Jones (135)

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Featherweight Bout: Sodiq Yusuff () vs Don Shainis ()

Catchweight (140-lbs) Bout: John Castaneda (139.5) vs Daniel Santos (138.5)

Lightweight Bout: Mike Davis (155) vs Viacheslav Borshchev (155.5)

PRELIMS

Heavyweight Bout: Ilir Latifi () vs Aleksei Oleinik ()

Lightweight Bout: Joaquim Silva (155) vs Jesse Ronson (155.5)

Middleweight Bout: Krzysztof Jotko (185.5) vs Brendan Allen (186)

FIGHT WEEK INTERVIEWS: Mike DavisMackenzie Dern | Tabatha Ricci | Randy Brown | Sodiq Yusuff | Brendan Allen | Randy Costa | Xiaonan Yan

Light Heavyweight Bout: Max Grishin (205.5) vs Phillipe Lins ()

Women’s Catchweight (140-lbs) Bout: Julija Stoliarenko (139.5) vs Chelsea Chandler ()

Bantamweight Bout: Guido Cannetti () vs Randy Costa (135)

*Due to an illness with Jessica Penne, her strawweight bout with Tabatha Ricci has been cancelled.

Don’t Miss A Moment Of UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan, Live From The UFC APEX In Las Vegas, Nevada. Prelims Begin at 4pm ET/1pm PT, While The Main Card Kicks Off At 7pm ET/4pm PT.

Aleksei Oleinik Constantly Wants A Challenge

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Oleinik and Latifi were originally scheduled to face each other in March, but the day of the event, Latifi withdrew from the fight due to illness, so the bout was rescheduled two weeks later at UFC 273. However, Latifi withdrew again, and Oleinik faced Jared Vanderaa, winning via scarf hold at 3:39 of the first round.

Latifi has never been submitted in his career. Will Oleinik be the first one to do it? That’s a mystery until fight night.

“Nobody knows,” Oleinik said. “I hope yes, Latifi hopes no. This is one more challenge for me and one more challenge for him.”

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It’s hard for Oleinik to pick out one specific moment that he’s proud of when he looks back at his career. And even though the 45-year-old understands that the end of his career might be approaching, he isn’t focused on that. He is appreciative of the fact that he gets to fight with the best athletes in the world and set records that will be remembered for a lifetime.

“It’s been a very long career,” Oleinik said. “Nobody fights as long as me, 26 years. I am not near the start of my career, but near the finish. I am not on a very small promotion to fight; I fight with the best of the best in the world. Of course, that’s proud for me. My professional record is the biggest in the UFC with the best of the best in the world.”

Self-Belief Was Mike Davis’ Missing Piece

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Davis first felt like his confidence was shaken when he made his UFC debut on short notice against Gilbert Burns. Obviously, facing someone like Burns in your UFC debut is a tall task in and of itself, but the submission loss made Davis feel like he didn’t belong competing with the best in the world.

Back-to-back victories over Thomas Gifford and Mason Jones helped lift Davis’ spirits and showed him that he has what it takes to succeed in the UFC. But those victories weren’t all he needed; he needed that time off and so he took it.

MORE UFC FIGHT NIGHT: Fighters On The Rise | Fight by Fight Preview | Dern’s Interview With Megan Olivi | Main Event Preview The Best Of Dern Top 10 Fights Of October

Over a year-and-a-half later, Davis is back and ready to rock in a fun lightweight matchup with Viacheslav Borshchev at UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan. He’s changed his mental approach to fighting and believes this new outlook sets him up perfectly to reach his true potential in MMA.

“I’m testing my skill set like I would at a video game tournament. I’ve played the game, I’ve learned all the skills and now I’m in a tournament. This is what it is,” Davis said. “I’ve been fighting once a year and that’s because of my mental stuff because I don’t want to be in the Octagon, because I don’t like fighting. With this new approach, this enjoyment of testing out my skill set rather than considering it like a brawl or a fight or something that requires a lot of aggression, I’m just having fun.”

Randy Brown And An MMA Lifestyle

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“If I do that, depending on what he gives me, let’s see what I feel. It’s art, it’s a blank slate, a blank canvas, and I got to go out there and see what it is, feel it out and make my adjustments.”

It’ll be just under five months since Brown last made his walk to the Octagon and, in that time, he’s made it a priority to improve on being a well-rounded fighter, rather than being elite in one discipline and lacking at others.

That’s something we see regularly amongst the elite athletes in the UFC; a well-rounded skill set with very few holes in their game. Hunting to be in the Top 15, Brown will try to be a step ahead in both the striking and grappling exchanges this weekend to show that he can compete against any ranked talent.

UFC 280 FREE FIGHTS: Oliveira vs Gaethje | Makhachev vs Hooker | Dillashaw vs Sandhagen

“Everywhere, honestly,” Brown said regarding where he’s seen improvements since his bout against Williams. “I’m never really looking to just focus on one part of the game and say, ‘Well, I’m good at this so let me taper down on this and start focusing on another thing that I maybe lack at.’ I work on everything, whether I’m good at it or bad at it; I’m focused on bringing up all parts of my game. Rising tides raise all ships.

“There’s no easy nights,” Brown concludes. “I know it won’t be easy, but I think I can beat him anywhere the fight takes place. Obviously, in a fight you’re not looking to be on your back; I’m going to be on top if we’re on the ground, and if we’re standing up, I’m looking to lead the dance and control the exchanges.”

Brendan Allen: “I Just Want To Be Me”

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“It’s nice to finish the year off with a full camp; no matter what happens in the outcome, at least it was a full camp,” Allen said. “It is what it is, I don’t have any excuses, the better man will hopefully win Saturday night. I’m not attached to the outcome; I’m trying not to be at least. I just want to be me.”

His opponent, Jotko, is also riding a two-fight win streak, with wins over Misha Cirkunov and Gerald Meerschaert. Jotko has been in the UFC since 2013 and has a record of 24-5, with six wins by knockout and one by submission. Allen views Jotko, who has only been knocked out twice and submitted once in his career, as the perfect test because of the Poland native’s ability to be good everywhere.

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“He’s been in the UFC for a long time, had a lot of fights, and he’s been successful,” Allen said. “I’m excited to see if I can solve that puzzle better than anyone else has.

“No one has been able to go out there and beat him everywhere. I know Strickland beat him very soundly on the feet, easily, so I’d like to do that everywhere, but, to be honest, I don’t care, as long as I win. That’s all that matters.”

A win over Jotko could put Allen one step closer to making it into the middleweight rankings, but that isn’t what he expects out of this fight.

Don Shainis Ready To Show Out

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The 32-year-old knew what was next if he gave the right answer: a call to the UFC. It was short notice, it was against number 12-ranked featherweight contender Sodiq Yusuff, but he wasn’t going to turn it down. Instead, Shainis went to the gym, did an hour of cardio and began planning out two weeks that will culminate in his Octagon debut this weekend. Yes, Shainis is a UFC fighter, but don’t tell him that.

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“I haven’t had that moment yet,” he said. “People are congratulating me and I appreciate it, but I haven’t done s**t yet. Getting the call is one thing. Showing out’s another, and I expect to turn some heads on the first.”

When facing a Top 15 contender in your UFC debut on short notice, the oddsmakers will not be kind, and Shainis understands that. What the oddsmakers don’t understand is what Easton, Massachusetts’ Shainis has gone through to get here. Sure, any 12-3 fighter who battled it out on the regional scene before getting the call has a compelling story. But his might be more compelling than most, not that he’s going out of his way to say, “look at me.” Instead, when he speaks of the past, it’s almost matter of fact, like doesn’t everyone go through this.

“I’ve been trying to stay super active,” said Shainis, who has already fought four times in 2022. “It’s funny, I just turned 32, but I lost a year in 2018 when I broke my neck. That put me back a year. I’ve seen guys get to the next level in that year and I told myself I wasn’t done. I come back, I have four fights, I’m scheduled for my fifth and it gets stopped by the pandemic, and that put me back another year and a half. So, as of right now, I’m coming off two-and-a-half years of a lost career from things I couldn’t control, but it hasn’t deterred me at all.”

Wait, a broken neck?

“I was injured going into the fight and I don’t know if my neck was broken or it broke during the fight,” he explains of his April 2018 bout with Daniel Matos. “So after the first round, I couldn’t move my left arm, and I ended up losing that fight 29-28 at 155, so that’s up a weight class. It was a short-notice replacement fight, so I just said f**k it. My original opponent backed out, and they got me some black belt from Florida, and I lost a pretty close decision. The first two rounds were competitive, the third round, I was done, but I didn’t quit. That’s actually my proudest fight.”

Again, not even a trace of woe is me or maybe my career is done. Just like former world boxing champion and fellow New Englander Vinny Pazienza, Shainis wasn’t considering another line of work.

RELATED: Sodiq Yusuff Interview

“Not even a question in my mind,” said Shainis, who returned eight days shy of his injury to knock out David McClendon with a flying knee in ten seconds. Three more wins followed before COVID hit the world and put his life on pause just when he believed he was closing in on a call from the UFC.

“The pandemic messed up my whole life,” he said. “I’m dead serious. I lost a boatload of money, I was scheduled to fight for the 145 title back home, and it put my life on hold. I just invested money in a gym that essentially I haven’t seen any money back from, I lost my bartending gig and I couldn’t train.”

Soon, restrictions started easing up, but not at home, prompting a move to train with Krause and the Glory MMA crew.

“Massachusetts was super strict on their rules and regulations, and it was nearly impossible to train at the level I felt I should be training at,” Shainis said. “So I left and I ended up in Missouri training under James Krause, and here I am, almost two years later, making my UFC debut.”

Fight By Fight Preview | UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan

In between, Shainis has gone 5-1 with four finishes that include a first-round TKO of UFC vet Cody Pfister in May. He’s making a big step up on Saturday, but he’s far from intimidated by the moment. And that’s no surprise.

“To me, it’s just another fight,” Shainis said. “I see people compete and lose to names. I see people compete and think about rankings. People forget that it’s just another fight and crazy things happen in fights. I know I’m a huge underdog in this and I’m doubling down on myself right now. So it’s gonna be one of these things where I come out of left field, and what pressure’s on me? If I lose, I lost to the number 12 guy in the world, and if I win, I just starched the number 12 guy in the world. I’m not even thinking about it. I’m just thinking about being me, and if I’m me in my truest form, you’re gonna have to kill me to beat me.”

Don’t Miss A Moment Of UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan, Live From The UFC APEX In Las Vegas, Nevada. Prelims Begin at 4pm ET/1pm PT, While The Main Card Kicks Off At 7pm ET/4pm PT.

Mackenzie Dern Aims To Secure Another Submission

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“I’m coming in mean for this fight,” said Dern. “I know as I get higher in the ranks and I see how these girls are tough and how they’re not gonna just tap, I’m really gonna have to take the submission home.”

This attitude comes in the aftermath of Dern’s April bout with Tecia Torres, where the decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt scored the biggest win of her career, but it came via split decision, not by submission after she had Torres in trouble in the second round. The victory showed the continued evolution of Dern’s game and her ability to gut out a win, but she sees this weekend’s bout as an opportunity to remind Yan and the world just how dangerous she is if the fight hits the mat.

Don’t Miss Any UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan on ESPN+!

“I think Yan should really respect my skills,” Dern said. “It’s not a game, it’s not a place anyone wants to be, having fun down there. If you’re on the ground, it can be over fast.”

Then a smile, making one wonder just how the 29-year-old will bring out the mean when the Octagon door shuts, but considering that she’s putting her number five ranking on the line against Yan’s number six spot in the strawweight division, stakes are high in an ever-changing weight class.

“I think this is really where I should be fighting,” said Dern. “That’s what’s going to push me to be the best I can be. I never fought someone with the same style as Yan, so this fight’s so important. A good win can really set me up for potentially the next title fight.“

When Dern talks about the belt, her usually sunny disposition gets even brighter, and after winning seven of her first nine UFC bouts, with the only losses coming via decision to Amanda Ribas and Marina Rodriguez, it’s clear that she may be just one big performance away from being mentioned as an opponent for the winner of November’s title fight between champion Carla Esparza and former champ Zhang Weili.

MORE DERN: The Best Of Mackenzie Dern | Athlete Profile | Mackenzie Dern And The Family Business

“I want to fight for the belt so bad,” said Dern. “This is my dream to be the UFC champion, so every fight up until then is a battle, but it’s one more battle in the war, and the war is to be the champion and I know I’m going to be able to fight and win the war. And once I get the belt, it’s going to be a whole other story – my whole training, everything’s gonna change after that. So each fight I try and take as a title fight, but I know that when it is a title fight, it’s gonna be a whole new story. This is all just preparation to get there.”

And the way Dern sees it – respectfully, of course – Yan is the perfect foe for her to make that statement against.

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“I asked for this fight because I think it’s the fight that makes the most sense,” said Dern. “Yan lost to Marina, I lost to Marina, and, honestly, after her fight with Carla Esparza, she got taken down and I saw a lot of weaknesses in her ground game, I thought that this was a great fight for me. Of course, I know that she’s gonna come back and train and get better and fix all of her things, but for me, this is the fight that makes the most sense and I think this is a good matchup for me and my style.”

On paper, it is, especially with Yan coming off a pair of defeats to Esparza and Rodriguez. But fights aren’t won on paper, and with Yan hungry to get back in the win column and knowing what she’s up against in Dern, this could turn into a war of attrition. But that’s okay, because Dern is ready for anything.

“I’m hoping to beat Yan by submission and get a Performance of the Night,” she said. “Get in, get out, be able to stop her game completely and not give her too much space to get off too many numbers with striking and really just finish the fight without getting too injured and be able to fight again as soon as possible. But she’s ready to be in a dogfight, and me, as a grappler, that’s the best style for me.”

Randy Costa Has Nothing To Lose

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Costa took some time off to reevaluate his game, adding physical and mental tools that he felt like were missing. The time off has only added fuel to the fire and he’s looking to prove that he’s not just an all-action fighter, but one of the bantamweights that can compete in the upper echelon of the division.

Fight fans got a glimpse of that in his two-round banger of a fight with Yanez, who is highly considered to be one of the rising contenders at 135lbs.

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“I know that my ceiling is really high, and I was able to showcase a performance against Adrian Yanez that I’m right there and I can turn this thing around. Saturday is step number one,” Costa said. “UFC has matched me with other really good fighters and exciting fighters, and we’ve always delivered. I think this [fight with Cannetti] is going to be another one of those fights.”

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