UFC strawweight contender Yan Xiaonan’s passion for fighting began when she stood up to bullies at her childhood school in China.
Xiaonan defeated Mackenzie Dern via a majority decision on Saturday in the UFC Vegas 61 main event. The victory snapped a two-fight losing streak to Carla Esparza and Marina Rodriguez and put her back into title contention.
Xiaonan has been on a roll in the strawweight division since making her UFC debut in Nov. 2017. She won her first six straight fights over the likes of Angela Hill, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and former title challenger Claudia Gadelha.
MMA fighters often point to bullying and rough childhoods as a catalyst for their eventual careers in the cage, and Xiaonan is the latest example of an athlete who blossomed through early adversity.
Yan Xiaonan’s Rise In MMA Began With Fighting Bullies In China
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Xiaonan revealed how fighting entered her life by beating up bullies as a kid.
“I would fight a lot, lots of blood in my hair,” Xiaonan said. “All the boys, older boys, bigger than me. They bullied me, and whenever we played some games, I always would be doing better than everybody. So they disliked me and bullied me…
“I never fought with girls, just boys. I think I only lost one time and then I went back home, cried to my parents, and they told me don’t cry, fight back.”
Xiaonan isn’t the only former or current UFC fighter who has been motivated by childhood bullying. UFC Hall of Famer Georges St-Pierre has repeatedly spoken publicly about how some of his former opponents, most notably Nick Diaz, reminded him of bullies growing up.
As Xiaonan continues to rise up the strawweight ladder, she continues to use those memories from her childhood to her advantage to prepare for some of the top female fighters in the world.
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