Yan Xionan believes she is next in line for a shot at the reigning strawweight world champion Weili Zhang following her win at UFC 288 on Saturday night.
Xionan scored the biggest victory of her career thus far, dispatching former 115-pound titleholder Jessica Andrade in the first round of their main card matchup. It was the Chinese standout’s eighth win inside the Octagon, but just her first finish since debuting with the promotion back in 2017. Speaking with James Lynch in a MiddleEasy exclusive interview, Xionan shared her thoughts on the impressive first-round finish and believes the win will tee her up for a long-awaited title shot.
“It’s a huge relief. I got my first finish in the UFC so I got a step closer. I deserve to be the next title contender,” Xionan said via an off-screen translator. “I think if the UFC gives me the chance, I can win the title. I’m pretty confident about that because I think I improved a lot in every aspect of MMA so I think I can do that.”
Though the UFC did not announce Xionana vs. Andrade as a title eliminator, ‘Nine’ believes that the promotion was hesitant to make plans for Weili Zhang until after UFC 288. With Xionan’s impressive performance over the weekend, it now appears that she is the frontrunner for an all-Chinese clash later this year.
“The UFC hasn’t announced anything for Weili so what I think is they were waiting for this fight to see who deserves the title shot more, me or [Amanda] Lemos”, Xionan continued. “I think I did better than her and I deserve the title shot more than her.”
Jessica Andrade was being reckless not seeing Yan Xionan right hand coming at her as Yan landed a KO win in rd. 1! Yan's striking was crisp AF! Her training w/ Alpha Male really pays off! We need her vs. Zhang Weili for the strawweight strap next! #UFC288
— ⚜ WHO DAT Cool Breesy ⚜ (@Steve2duhO) May 7, 2023
Yan Xionan Reveals Potential Timeline for Title Fight with Zhang Weili
Following her win at UFC 288, Yan Xionan made her case to UFC President Dana White, letting him know that she wants an opportunity to dethrone two-time titleholder, Weili Zhang. According to Xionan, White confirmed that not only was she next in line, but that he intends on booking the bout for a UFC event to be held in China later this year.
“Right after the fight when I was in the Octagon, I walked toward Dana White to show [tell] him, ‘Hey, give me the belt. Give me the title shot’ and after the fight, I also met Dana in the locker room. I said, ‘Hey, I want the title shot.’ He said, ‘Okay, let’s do it in China.’ He’s working on having a UFC event at some point this year in China and he said if it happens, let’s pull it off,” Xionan revealed.
“It’s going to be a historical moment. Nothing is going to be bigger than that if me and Weili fight for the title in China. Right now, Weili is the only UFC champion from Asia, and if me and her, both fighters from Asia fight for the UFC championship, which means we represent the highest level of this sport and also show the world the development of MMA in Asia.”
As for when the fight would potentially go down, Xionan suggested that it could be in “December this year.”
Xionan also took a moment to address fan feedback following her incredible win. After the fight was initially announced, many fight fans discredited Xionan as a viable contender, suggesting that she would be easily handled by Jessica Andrade. ‘Nine’ had a message for all of those online doubters.
“It’s funny you know, a lot of haters posted on social media saying if [Xionan Yan] win this fight, I will eat sh*t. And now I just let those people eat shit,” Xianon said with a smile.