The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 211
The season has turned to autumn. The calendar has turned to October.
But it's always a good time for a fight.
The UFC followed through on that mindset from its Apex home base in the Nevada desert, producing an 11-bout show that was broadcast live by ESPN.
Ranked strawweights Mackenzie Dern and Xiaonan Yan met in a scheduled five-round main event, with each angling to move onto the radar of new champion Carla Esparza.
The B/R combat sports team was in position for the event and put together a definitive list of the event's winners and losers. Scroll through to see what we came up with, and drop a take or two of your own in the comments section.
Winner: Sidestepping Drama
Dern was all-in for her Rocky moment.
The fifth-ranked strawweight was down on the scorecards heading into the fifth round and exhorted by her corner team to chase a stoppage that would make the judges academic.
And as the fight entered its final 30 seconds and she finally wrenched her sixth-ranked foe's left arm into a submission position, it appeared as if she'd made it dramatically happen.
Until it slipped out.
Xiaonan was able to escape the last-ditch effort with 10 seconds remaining and, upon lasting to the final bell, secured a majority decision win in her first career main event.
"I know her jiu-jitsu is amazing," Xiaonan said. "She's a black belt. I'm a white belt. But I trained so hard. So I knew I could make it. I knew I could do it."
Two judges gave her 3-2 edges in rounds and 48-47 margins on the scorecards, while a third judge gave Dern a 10-8 tally in the fifth to wind up at 47-47 overall. Xiaonan greeted the official announcement with a high-stepping victory lap while Dern simply nodded.
It was the latter's third loss in 10 UFC fights and second straight in main-event positions.
Xiaonan's blueprint was to fight from distance and use her punches, kicks and speed to negate Dern's huge edge in grappling.
She was successful in Rounds 1, 3 and 4 to build up the lead, then survived the fifth despite spending all but 25 seconds of it in Dern's control.
"I didn't train a lot on striking because I knew if the fight was striking, I would win," Xiaonan said. "The only thing I tried to avoid was throwing high kicks because she could catch them."
Winner: Following the Blueprint
Randy Brown is looking to make a dent at welterweight.
He was determined to not only score a victory, his fourth straight, against veteran Francisco Trinaldo on Saturday night but to do so impressively.
The 6'3" Jamaican utilized every bit of his advantages in height (6'3" to 5'9") and reach (78" to 70"), working effectively from a distance with kicks and punches and avoiding significant damage when necessary in securing a close but fair unanimous decision.
All three judges scored it 29-28 for Brown, giving him the first two rounds during which he ran up a 48-28 edge in significant strikes, defended three of four takedown attempts and went for his own submission with a guillotine choke.
The 44-year-old Trinaldo landed 47 overall strikes in the third round and controlled position on the ground for better than half the round, but Brown was never in imminent danger.
"I'm feeling great," he said. "That was a hell of a test. I don't think it was my best work, but I'm excited. He's a true veteran and an absolute legend."
The win boosted Brown to 10-3 in the UFC since 2016 and dropped Trinaldo to 18-8.
"Somehow, I'm still unranked," Brown said. "But I'll keep running it up. I don't give a damn where I'm ranked. Just cut my check, and I'll fight whoever."
Winner: Perpetual Violent Motion
Raoni Barcelos is a native of Brazil, but his fighting style on Saturday night screamed Tasmanian Devil.
The 35-year-old bantamweight brutalized foe Trevin Jones with perpetual aggression across 15 minutes—highlighted by precision striking, superior grappling and punishing ground shots on the way to a inarguable unanimous decision.
The scores were 30-25, 30-27 and 30-27. And it didn't seem that close.
That's because Barcelos landed 119 strikes to just 15 for Jones, scored both of the fight's two takedowns and had better than seven minutes of ground control time, sending Jones to his third loss in five octagonal appearances.
The winner, meanwhile, is 6-2 with the promotion and ended a two-fight skid.
"I wanted to go to the ground, and I wanted to go back to my origins," he said. "We wanted to finish, but I'm just happy to get the win."
Barcelos took the first round courtesy of a takedown at the three-minute mark, scored a knockdown with a right hand in the second and rattled Jones several times in the third with punches and knees that led to another takedown and prolonged ground punishment.
"He showed it all tonight," ESPN analyst Paul Felder said. "He has every skill you'd want in a future champion."
Winner: Taking What's Given
Sodiq Yusuff was frustrated.
He'd been looking to make a move up from his No. 12 slot in the featherweight rankings but was stalled as recently as last week by a late fight postponement.
So when an opportunity came up this week to take on UFC newbie Don Shainis, he jumped.
"I put in a big grind. I had a lot of people come out and help me, and I didn't want to let it go to waste," he said. "It was high-risk, low-reward, but I had to take it. Fighters fight."
But sometimes, fighters don't have to fight for long.
Yusuff greeted his aggressive opponent with a series of knees to the body up the middle, then seized Shainis' neck from a standing position, leapt to wrap his legs around his foe's torso and drew an almost instant guillotine choke tap-out after just 30 seconds.
"That front choke is next level," ESPN analyst Dominick Cruz said.
It was the second-fastest featherweight submission in UFC history and, ironically, the first submission of Yusuff's now-15-fight career. It came one fight after his training partner, Mike Davis, opened the main card with a clear decision over Viacheslav Borshchev.
"Coming into the UFC, the levels are different," Yusuff said.
"Don't sleep on my jiu-jitsu. I've always had it. And I'm trying to boost my rating on the UFC video game. I'm way too low on that thing."
Loser: Old-Timer Excitement
Old-Timers Day is usually a baseball phenomenon.
But the UFC got in on the veteran thing in Saturday's highest-profile preliminary bout, matching 45-year-old Aleksei Oleinik, who took his first professional bout during the Clinton Administration; with Swedish-born Ilir Latifi, who'd turned 40 and is a 14-year pro himself.
Not surprisingly, it wasn't a barn burner.
The old-school giants lumbered their way through 15 minutes of intermittent action, with Latifi doing enough from both the stand-up and ground positions to earn a unanimous decision that featured a shutout on all three scorecards.
It was the fourth loss in five fights since mid-2020 and sixth in nine outings since the start of 2019 for Oleinik, while Latifi won for the second straight time after his own three-fight skid from December 2018 through February 2020.
It came in the final fight of a current UFC contract for the winner, who seemed to grasp that his octagonal career might be coming to an end.
"I don't know what happens after this," Latifi said. "It's been an amazing run. There have been some glorious fights, but there's an end to every story. We'll see what happens."
Full Card Results
Xiaonan Yan def. Mackenzie Dern by majority decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-47)
Randy Brown def. Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Raoni Barcelos def. Trevin Jones by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-27, 30-27)
Sodiq Yusuff def. Don Shainis by submission (guillotine choke), 0:30, Round 1
Mike Davis def. Viacheslav Borshchev by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-26)
Daniel Santos def. John Castaneda by TKO (knee), 4:28, Round 2
Ilir Latifi def. Aleksei Oleinik by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Joaquim Silva def. Jesse Ronson by KO (flying knee), 3:08, Round 2
Brendan Allen def. Krzysztof Jotko by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:17, Round 1
Chelsea Chandler def. Julija Stoliarenko by TKO (punches), 4:15, Round 1
Guido Cannetti def. Randy Costa by submission (rear-naked choke), 1:04, Round 1