UFC 224 available for order on Amazon Prime (Prime Video PPV)
Mackenzie Dern currently has one goal in mind: to become an Ultimate Fighting Championship champion.
Years before she set foot inside the cage, Dern was already making headlines, having won every major grappling title there is. The daughter of Brazilian jiu-jitsu star Wellington “Megaton” Dias was a prodigy who started training when she was 3 and began competing when she turned 6. By 14, she was already competing extensively outside the United States and started battling in the adult division two years later. She went on to win multiple titles at every level and was awarded her black belt before she even turned 20.
Since making her mixed martial arts debut against Kenia Rosas two years ago, Dern is undefeated at 6-0 and is looking to build on her first Octagon appearance, a split decision win over Ashley Yoder at UFC 222. Before signing with the UFC, Dern fought for Invicta Fighting Championships and Legacy Fighting Alliance, finishing three out of her first five opponents.
Before her scheduled bout against Amanda Bobby Cooper this weekend at UFC 224, here are five things you may not know about Mackenzie Dern:
1. Dern once handed some high school bully what she deserved.Dern is a sweet girl who is usually cool about anything, except when someone’s being bullied and it’s her friend. In her sophomore year, Dern dealt with a bully who taunted her male childhood friend -- the bully tossed the friend’s glasses to the ground, breaking them. It escalated beyond a mere verbal confrontation: Dern took the bully down and punched her several times. This happened in the school cafeteria for everyone to see. Of course, she felt like a hero at the time.
2. In case you haven’t seen her Instagram yet, she loves animals.It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that she has a sweet spot for animals. On her Instagram account, Dern gives us a glimpse of her tender moments with her dogs and even shares a snapshot with ferrets. She owns two adorable American Bulldogs who are sometimes featured in her interviews.
3. Yes, she’s also good on TV.In 2015, following one of her wins on the world jiu-jitsu circuit, Dern was invited to participate in a Japanese television show that pitted female athletes against male comedians. The show was a success, and of course, Dern won her match -- against a judo black belt.
4. No, she does not consider Ronda Rousey much of an inspiration.Comparisons to Rousey, a fellow world-class grappler turned marketable star, are inevitable. But Dern wants to separate herself from the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion. While she acknowledges Rousey’s achievements and how she opened doors for female fighters, Dern said she just never connected with Rousey’s personality.
5. Her father, the great Wellington Dias, opposed her move to fight in MMA.Naturally, her father imagined a comfortable life for her daughter -- one like his own -- and despises the idea of Dern trading punches inside the cage. After all, she was already making good money competing and teaching classes all over the world. However, as previously stated, the grappling superstar has already set her eyes on UFC gold.
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