Song Yadong falls to former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan at UFC 299

Despite a strong start, ‘Swaggy Song’ ultimately lost to Yan in three rounds by unanimous decision

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Matthew Bossons
1:14 PM HKT, Sun March 10, 2024 2 mins read

It’s an outcome that will likely disappoint fight fans in China: Chinese mixed martial artist Song Yadong fell short of securing his third consecutive win on March 9. He lost to Russian fighter and former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan in three rounds at UFC 299 in Miami, Florida, by unanimous decision.

The three-round bantamweight contest was the opening fight of the evening’s main card, which was headlined by a bantamweight championship bout between current champ Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera.

The first round started slow, with a confident Song bidding his time and landing a few well-placed punches. In the final minute of the opening round, Song kept Yan on the canvas and delivered some big shots to his opponent’s head.

Song was the clear winner of round one, and Yan’s ring-side crew couldn’t have been happy with their man’s performance in the fight’s first five minutes. Yan found his pace in the second round, though, keeping the pressure on Song and delivering some strong uppercuts in the final minute. Yan also executed a beautiful takedown in the final 30 seconds of the round, keeping Song pinned until the buzzer.

Round three was likely the most thrilling of the fight, with some wild takedowns. Song showed some signs of fatigue in the final five minutes, and he appeared to struggle to keep up with Yan’s pace through much of the round. Song finished the final round pinned to the canvas.

After being crowned the victor, Yan thanked his fans while speaking with UFC commentator Joe Rogan.

(Fun fact for Chinese MMA fans: While Yan fights out of Mother Russia and describes himself as a “Russian Orthodox Christian Man,” he has a personal connection to China — Chinese ancestry. Yan has claimed his paternal grandfather is “pure Chinese,” according to the South China Morning Post. The Russian fighter has previously been subjected to racist, online abuse due to his Chinese roots.)

Song Yadong and Petr Yan at UFC 299

Screengrab via Sportsnet

Song, 26, came into the fight ranked seventh in the bantamweight division with a record of 21-7-1. According to UFC stats, Song has ended nine fights by knockout and three by submission, with seven of his wins secured in the first found.

Meanwhile, 31-year-old Yan ranked fourth in the same division, boasting a record of 16-5-0. Yan has seven knockout wins and three submission wins to his name.

Before the fight, Yan was slightly favored to win, with odds at -130. Song was the betting underdog with odds of +105.

The bantamweight fighters were initially set to meet each other in the Octagon in December 2023 for UFC Vegas 83, but Yan was forced to bow out of the fight due to an injury. Song ended up trading blows with Chris Gutierrez as part of that event’s main card.

Since losing to Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 60 in September 2022, Song has clinched W’s in his two most recent fights. He defeated Ricky Simón by TKO in the fifth round during the main card of UFC Vegas 72 in April 2023 before besting Gutierrez for a unanimous decision victory at UFC Vegas 83 in the final month of last year.

Song’s loss at UFC 299 will likely be a stinging disappointment for China’s MMA fans, but the night was still a notable occasion for the Chinese fighter: When he entered Miami’s Kaseya Center, it was with a new nickname — ‘Swaggy Song Yadong.’

“According to the man himself, UFC 299 is the introduction of Swaggy Song,” a broadcast host announced prior to Song entering the Octagon. The new nickname presumably signals that Song is parting ways with his former moniker, ‘The Kung Fu Kid,’ which — for obvious reasons — was and remains somewhat unoriginal.

Song hails from the province of Heilongjiang in Northeast China and has become one of his home country’s most recognizable and celebrated MMA athletes. Song, who fights out of UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California, was profiled in the second episode of RADII’s 2022 mini-documentary Way of the Warrior, which profiled both established and up-and-coming MMA talent from China. (Click here to watch the second episode of Way of the Warrior.)

Eager to discover more human stories from China’s MMA scene? Take a look at our Way of the Warrior series.

Cover image: screengrab via Sportsnet

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Matthew Bossons
Nov 14, 2022
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