Mackenzie Dern is an Arizona native, but her Brazilian roots run deep.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under her father, Wellington “Megaton” Dias, Dern was successful in her highly-anticipated Octagon debut, as she garnered a hard-fought split verdict over Ashley Yoder in a 115-pound bout at UFC 222. After the win, Dern set her sights on an appearance in Brazil.
“I can’t wait to get back out there and fight again,” Dern said. “I am hoping to fight in Rio at UFC 224. Brazil is one of my homes and it would be an honor to fight for UFC in Rio.”
UFC 224 takes place at Juenesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro on May 12 and will see Amanda Nunes defend her bantamweight crown against Raquel Pennington. The card also includes a pair of high-profile middleweight matchups, as Ronaldo Souza meets Kelvin Gastelum, while Lyoto Machida squares off against Vitor Belfort.
Dern still has a long ways to go to match the reputations of some of the main players on the UFC 224 lineup, but she did show an ability to persevere through some adversity in her initial Octagon foray. Dern spent much of the fight trading on the feet and working in the clinch, as she struggled to take Yoder down for much of the contest and was even dropped by her opponent in the second stanza.
However, Dern finally achieved the takedown in the waning moments of the third round, moved to Yoder’s back and looked for the rear-naked choke. She wasn’t able to secure the submission, but it did provide a glimpse of what makes Dern special in what was an otherwise flawed performance.
Dern admits to being one of her own worst critics, which could help her as her UFC career progresses.
“I am so happy to be here and, to earn my first UFC win, it feels absolutely amazing. I’m very hard on myself so I really wanted to get the submission,” Dern said I’m a jiu-jitsu girl, so that’s always the goal, and I’m disappointed unless I get it.” “But I am also much more than just jiu-jitsu, so going out and fighting a lot of stand-up was a fun, and I’m glad I got to show that side of my game. I landed a lot of heavy shots in the first round and I’m proud of that.
“I want to continue to improve in all areas of the sport and I think tonight showed that I am working hard to be a well-rounded mixed martial artist.”