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Battle-hardened Brazilian Gadelha talks of harnessing ‘super power’ as UFC star faces surging Chinese contender Yan in Las Vegas

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“I am aware that if I win this fight there is the chance that I might fight Weili,” Yan told the South China Morning Post

“That is the direction I want to go in. Of course we know each other, although we are not close friends. 

“We are in different gyms but I have watched her like everyone else. I think I am faster than her so I can beat her. I think about this a lot, about how to beat her.

“Because we are both Chinese I think I know how to fight her better than everyone else, and I know how to beat her.”

Gadelha, 31, will be a formidable roadblock on that path. 

‘Claudinha’ has very much been there and (almost) done that, fighting in the UFC’s first-ever women’s strawweight bout back in 2014 before suffering a failed shot at gold against then-champion Jedrzejczyk in what was a bitter rematch in 2016. 

Yan knows that a victory over the battle-hardened Brazilian – currently four places above her at fourth in the women’s 115lbs rankings – would be a significant scalp to add to her resume. 

“With Claudia it is all about her grappling. That’s the most dangerous thing for me to face,” Yan said of the BJJ black belt who is awaiting her on Saturday night.  

“But for me I have my boxing, my hands and my footwork. They will make all the difference. They are the key elements because I think I am way faster than Claudia. I will use my feet, my pace, to beat her.”

Yan’s preparations have taken place the Team Alpha Male gym set up by UFC legend Uriah Faber in Sacramento, California, which the Chinese fighter says has provided the ideal setting as she plots Gadelha’s downfall. 

“I don’t feel like I have been visiting, I feel like I belong there and Urijah has been great,” Yan told the SCMP. 

“He has been working with my wrestling and giving me tips on how to fight Claudia, and I think this will help me a lot. My condition, physically and mentally, is very good. I feel as good as I have ever felt…” 

“Working with Urijah has helped build the confidence I need to fight someone like Claudia, a grappler.” 

Fan favorite Gadelha’s own message issued to her 934,000 followers on social media during fight week was one of humility.

“The main thing here is staying humble, growth, self worth and your why. Always remember why you do what you do, this is your super power. Super heroes are humans,” wrote the Brazilian.  

Many might see such talk of “super powers” somewhat appropriate, given the current consensus among MMA fans that it will likely take a superhuman effort from the UFC women’s strawweight fold to dethrone Zhang – but either Gadelha or Yan will at least edge closer to getting a chance to try when things are done and dusted in Las Vegas on Saturday night.   

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