There's something unusual is afoot at the UFC APEX this weekend where neither fans or media will be in attendance as Mackenzie Dern takes on Xiaonan Yan in the titular strawweight main event.


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The reason for the taking the event behind closed doors is yet to be revealed although UFC boss Dana White yesterday shut down rumours Mark Zuckerberg had bought the facility out for the evening.

Whatever the truth, we’re certainly going to be tuning in to find out – and here are three more reasons why you can’t miss the action at UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan this Saturday night.

Mackenzie the meanie?

Mackenzie Dern has the chance to put herself in with a great shout of challenging for the 115lb crown next – if she can navigate one final hurdle in the form of Xiaonan Yan.

The former jiu-jitsu world champion has taken a little while to acclimatise to the demands of the Octagon over the BJJ mat – but with a 7-2 record since coming to the promotion more than four years ago, her trajectory has been a positive one.

A split decision win over Tecia Torres last time out helped Dern bounce back at the first time of asking following defeat against Marina Rodriguez in October last year – but the American-Brazilian believes there is much more still to come from her as she continues her development as a competitor at the highest level of the UFC.

“With Marina and Tecia, I got in good positions to submit them, with both of them,” Dern told The Fighter vs The Writer podcast.

“I've been working on being a little meaner for this fight”
- Mackenzie Dern

“With Marina, I got the omo plata on her back and I didn’t finish the position. With Tecia, I had a kimura and a leg lock and I didn’t finish. Definitely even with a loss and a win, I’m learning something. I need to get my timing better.

“I think I lost a little bit with my adjustments, I’m not as tight on my timing with submissions, which is my strength. These are positions that if I get to these positions, omo plata or the kimura, I shouldn’t be losing it or I shouldn’t be not submitting.”

Her timing will need to be spot on against a combatant who enters the Octagon on a two-fight losing skid with her title ambitions threatening to become a distant memory.

China’s Yan had been on a six-fight tear up the strawweight ladder before coming unstuck in successive bouts against Carla Esparza and Marina Rodriguez.

Now 33, Yan will need to count on all her experience to keep the fight off the deck against as skilled an opponent as Dern – but if it does hit the deck, Dern revealed how she hopes to capitalise on the opportunity.

“I lost that timing to get that submission and not letting it get away so definitely, I’ve been working on that for this fight,” she added.

“I guess being a little bit meaner and hey, we all signed up for this and we’re on a different level now. I’m excited.

“I can’t be losing those positions. I should be finishing the fight there. Whatever she gives me, the back, the neck, the foot, leg, arm whatever she’ll give me. We’ll see. Hopefully she’ll tap.”

Francisco Trinaldo with his arm raised

Age is just a number

Brazil’s Francisco Trinaldo will step into the Octagon this weekend as one of the oldest men to have made that fabled walk when he takes on Randy Brown in the welterweight co-main event.

The 44-year-old continues to defy expectations and compete with the best of the best at 170lb having gone 2-1 since moving up from his former lightweight home in June last year.

But Trinaldo’s recent good form extends beyond that date with the man from Amarante now 5-1 in his last six fights including wins over Bobby Green, Jai Herbert and Danny Roberts.

“I want to continue to give work to those young guns that are coming up”
- Francisco Trinaldo

Another victory on Saturday night would see the veteran fighter take another step closer to the 170lb rankings and stave off any notion of retirement in the near future.

“As long as the spark is there, and that flame is there, and I wake up in the morning eager to train, to run, to box, to wrestle, I’ll continue to do it,” Trinaldo said.

“Right now it’s there and that’s what I like to do. I want to continue to give work to those young guns that are coming up.”

At the ripe age of 32, it’s hard to classify as Brown a young gun – although with a 12-year age differential between the pair on fight night, “Rude Boy” Brown will be hoping he can make his athleticism count when the Octagon door closes.

Three straight wins since a stoppage defeat to Vicente Luque have seen Brown quietly amass a decent record in the 170lb division.

And with a fourth victory likely to put him on the brink of the top 15, Brown isn’t taking this weekend’s assignment lightly.

“Uncle Trinaldo got power,” Brown said.

“We know unc got power, we’ve seen it. He’s always bringing crazy energy when he fights, he’s a little Tasmanian devil. He’s older now so he’s slowing down and you could see that.

“But still, what’s the last thing to go with age? That power. You see him coming up and putting welterweights away so I’d be a fool to be like, ‘Oh well, I just need to coast and get through the rounds.’ Nah, he’s coming with that energy and I’m gonna have to meet him halfway just like that. So, a ton of respect but unc gotta get it.”

Beast Boy back on the scene

Mike “Beast Boy” Davis returns to action for the first time in more than 18 months when he takes on the hard-hitting Viacheslav Borshchev at the UFC APEX.

Davis is a talented grappler with a jiu-jitsu background but the athletic lightweight needs no second invitation to stand and bang – and it’s likely that’s how this contest will play out against the man nicknamed “Slava Claus”.

Borshchev had been on a run of four straight knockouts before Britain’s Mark Diakiese outwrestled him to a comfortable decision last time out.

However, the Russian, who trains out of Team Alpha Male, will be keen to demonstrate his evolution as a fighter if the fight does go to the ground.

That seems unlikely though with a combined 12 knockouts from their 15 wins, so make sure you don’t miss this main card opener which could steal the show!