Yadong (20-7-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) headlines the UFC’s penultimate event of the year in a five-round bantamweight fight with Gutierrez (20-5-2 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) at the UFC Apex, which streams on ESPN+. With victories in four of his past five fights, the Team Alpha Male product thinks he’s on the verge of title contention.
“Win this fight, then maybe two more,” Yadong told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 233 media day. “Next time give me top five and win the next one, then I think they will give me a chance to fight for a title.”
UFC Fight Night 233 was originally announced to take place in Shanghai. For China’s Yadong, it was a dream scenario to compete on home soil and have an event focused around him. But then the organization changed plans and moved the card to Las Vegas on less than three weeks’ notice.
Yadong claims he doesn’t know why the card was relocated, but he was disheartened by the news.
“I’m very disappointed about this,” Yadong said. “I really wanted to fight in China because it is my home. It’s been four years I haven’t been fighting in China. I wanted to show my family, my friends, all my U.S. fans and all the MMA fans how much I improved. I wanted to make a good statement and a good opponent over there.”
Despite the shift in location, Yadong said he hasn’t lost focus on the task at hand. He knows as the No. 9 ranked fighter in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie bantamweight rankings, he’s putting a lot on the line against unranked Gutierrez, but he thinks he can shine in the matchup.
“Every time I will say I will knock him out quickly,” Yadong said. “I know a little bit about him before I took this fight. Definitely, he’s a striker, has good footwork and switches stance. Nothing special.”
If Yadong emerges victorious, he said he will be going big game hunting at 135 pounds. He was originally linked to a fight with former champion Petr Yan at UFC Fight Night 233, but then it fizzled and he ended up with Gutierrez instead.
A showdown with Yan (16-5 MMA, 8-4 UFC) is one Yadong wants to revisit, he said, and the 26-year-old intends on making a direct callout if his hand is raised.
“UFC has arranged for me to fight Petr in Shanghai, but they never gave me the contract,” Yadong said. “Actually, we both didn’t sign the contract for each other. Definitely (I want to fight Yan). After this fight. Win this fight, I will call him out.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 233.