- Casey O’Neill explained why Yan Xiaonan should fight Rose Namajunas before competing for the title
- “King” thinks “Fury” could also take on her fellow Chinese Zhang Weili
When the UFC updates its rankings, Yan Xiaonan is very likely to break into the women’s strawweight division’s top five following her majority decision win over Mackenzie Dern at UFC Vegas 61.
The Chinese MMA star is edging closer to her first title shot, but according to UFC women’s flyweight Casey O’Neill, Xiaonan must first prove herself against one of the four fighters above her.
Weighing in on who should Xiaonan face next on The AllStar, O’Neill said she’s rooting for “Fury” to take on former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. For “King,” a victory over a former champ would make Xiaonan’s case for a title shot cleaner and stronger.
“I would love to see Yan vs. Rose, but I think that that’s a really tough fight for Yan,” O’Neill assessed. “Stylistically, someone who likes to strike and someone who’s so elusive and good with her footwork. [Rose] She’s just well-rounded. It’s a tough fight but it’s the type of fight that she [Xiaonan] needs before she goes in and fights for the title. Just to gain confidence and prove to herself and everyone else that she can go there and beat someone a former champion before going in there for the belt.”
Should Xiaonan fail to decisively beat Namajunas, O’Neill offered another fight to serve as “Fury’s” launch pad to title contention. As per O’Neill, a bout between Xiaonan and her compatriot Zhang Weili would also be “insane.”
“If [Xiaonan] she does end up fighting Rose and beating Rose somehow, her and [Zhang] Weili would be an insane fight also, so I would be really down for that fight,” she added.
It can be recalled that there had been quite a tension between Namajunas and Xiaonan following Rose’s controversial “better dead than red” comment when talking about Weili Zhang last year. Namajunas’ statement was perceived by many as a dig to Chinese people and Xianon was clearly unhappy about it.
If the UFC decides to book Xiaonan against Namajunas, it will be interesting to see if the pair would reignite the conflict as they motivate each other en route the bout.