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Claudia Gadelha got a glimpse of UFC Vegas 13 opponent Yan Xiaonan’s game after training session in Las Vegas

Claudia Gadelha looks for her third straight UFC win after topping Angela Hill and Randa Markos | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Claudia Gadelha, one of the most experienced fighters in the UFC strawweight division, has faced all kinds of challenges throughout her entire MMA career. On Saturday night, the former title contender faces Chinese prospect Yan Xiaonan on the main card portion of UFC Vegas 13.

Yan is 12-1 with one no contest as a professional MMA fighter, going 5-0 in the UFC against the likes of Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Angela Hill. Gadelha is coming off of decision wins over Randa Markos and Hill and believes that every battle she’s had prepared her for moments like this.

“I’ve seen it all,” Gadelha said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I’ve fought the best grapplers and best strikers of the division. We haven’t seen much from her yet, but it seems that she’s aggressive on the feet, she moves forward the entire time, but I think it’s different when you’re fighting a grappler like me. I’m a high-level grappler and that will be a problem for her aggressiveness.”

Yan is not yet popular with the North American audience since four of her five UFC appearances took place in Asia and Oceania, but Gadelha says she had a chance to roll with her in Las Vegas in 2019, learning a thing or two about her game.

“She trains at the same gym I’m training now, we even trained on the ground once here,” Gadelha said, though she never had the chance to spar with Yan. “I understand more about her game (because of that) than based on her fights because we’re here (in the same gym). I know more about her style in the octagon because of what I’ve seen in the gym.”

Yan is “aggressive and comes forward the entire time, but doesn’t have the ground game,” Gadelha added. That said, the Brazilian veteran also envisions herself getting the best of her in a striking battle.

“I just did three rounds on the feet with Angela Hill, one of the best strikers in the division,” Gadelha said. “I stood and traded with Randa Markos… That was not the type of fight I wanted but since I’ve been focusing on evolving on the feet, that happened. I tested myself on the feet and I needed performances like those, to go three rounds and see how I felt. I’m feeling great on the feet, ready for everything. Anything can happen in this fight.”

Gadelha vs. Yan was originally booked for Sept. 26, but the Brazilian needed a few more weeks to prepare after a knee injury kept her sidelined from training.

“It wasn’t such a serious injury but I’ve fought injured so much in the past that I decided to recover,” said Gadelha, who pointed at another knee injury as the reason why she wasn’t able to score a more emphatic victory against Carla Esparza in 2018. “It’s always a war with my coaches, I want to fight injured and they say no. I fought injured many times, but now I understand I don’t have to fight injured.”

The UFC has yet to officially announce who’s getting the next crack at UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili, but Rose Namajunas is expected to be the one after defeating Jessica Andrade in Abu Dhabi in July.

With back-to-back victories in the octagon, Gadelha believes she could be next for the winner of that championship clash after getting past Yan in Las Vegas.

“I’m a pioneer of the sport, I’m in the top-10, the top-5 for a decade,” Gadelha said. “I’ve been defeated a few times over the past few years, but I’m always coming back, always bouncing back and trying to evolve.

“Carla Esparza is ahead of me (in the ranking) but I’ve beaten her. Rose Namajunas is next for the champion, and I think that a win over Yan puts me in a title fight. There aren’t many athletes ahead of me. Let’s see what happens between the champion and Rose.”

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