Friday, December 2, 2022

O’Neill Assesses Next Step For Dern After Loss To Xiaonan

Casey O’Neill has shared what she would like to see next for Mackenzie Dern following Dern’s loss to Yan Xiaonan last weekend in the UFC Vegas 61 headliner.

Dern vs. Xiaonan lived up to the hype of their prototypical grappler vs. striker matchup at UFC Vegas 61. The two strawweights battled from the opening minutes of the fight at a torrid pace, with Xiaonan finding her timing on the feet and Dern controlling Xiaonan on the ground.

While the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Dern had her way in the grappling exchanges, she wasn’t able to secure a submission as Xiaonan repeatedly escaped danger. After five rounds of nonstop action, Xiaonan defeated Dern via a majority decision to move one step closer to a potential title shot.

O’Neill: Dern Needs To Take Regroup & Take A Step Back

In a recent Instagram post following her loss to Yan, Dern thanked her fans and gave her first public comments on the loss to Xiaonan, and she reiterated that her goal remains to become the world champion.

#10-ranked flyweight Casey O’Neill has also weighed in on Dern’s career, with the undefeated fighter opining on what should be Dern’s next moves following her latest defeat.

“I’d like to see her take a little bit of a break and go work on some things. Maybe even take a step back and fight somebody in the bottom half of the top 15, just to start racking up a few more wins and gaining confidence in her striking. It’s really hard to fight somebody super hard like Yan and try to work on your striking in that fight. That’s a fight you take like, a 15 or 13 ranking and go out there to try and work on your striking with them.

“It was high stakes for this fight, and obviously the winner was going to move on to big things and the loser was going to have to take a step back,” O’Neill said during a live stream with The All Star. “But Mackenzie will be back, for sure. She’s still young and the UFC likes her, so I’m sure they’ll help push her and help give her some fights where she can work on some things, get better, and then come back.”

Dern entered UFC Vegas 61 off of a split decision win over Tecia Torres at UFC 273 earlier this year. Before that, she lost to Marina Rodriguez to snap a four-fight winning streak.

Xiaonan bounced back in a big way following a close loss to Rodriguez at UFC 272. She remains in the hunt for a strawweight title shot with the victory and a chance at revenge against Carla Esparza after a loss in May 2021.

The 29-year-old Dern is one of the biggest stars in the strawweight division and will look to get back on the winning track in her UFC return.

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