Mackenzie Dern wasn’t the main event at Legacy Fighting Championship 58, but she was undoubtedly the evening’s featured attraction.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt did not disappoint in her mixed martial arts debut, as she scored a dominant unanimous decision triumph over Kenia Rosas at the Golden Nugget Casino Hotel in Lake Charles, La., on Friday night. Judges scored the strawweight bout 30-27, 30-26 and 30-25, all in favor of the MMA Lab representative.
Dern (1-0) was unable to secure a finish during the 15-minute affair, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The 2015 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion threatened nearly every one of her opponent’s limbs in a frenetic first round,including an armbar that appeared to have Rosas in serious danger. However, survival was the name of the game all evening for the 19-year-old Rosas (0-1), who was also making her MMA debut.
“I went for the armbar, and I saw her arm was really flexible. I went for the choke hold and I obviously didn’t want to go three rounds, but I think it was good to practice,” Dern said. “I’m happy with my performance.”
Rounds two and three saw a more measured approach for Dern, who is a black belt under her father, Wellington “Megaton” Dias. She landed takedowns in each frame and moved to mount with ease. From there she peppered who foe with punches and elbows while remaining heavy on top. Rosas did her best to escape the predicament but her efforts were largely unsuccessful. Dern closed the bout with one last armbar attempt. Again, Rosas’ arm was contorted beyond the normal angle, but she managed to make it to the final horn.
“I didn’t hear a noise, but for sure it was like backwards,” Dern said. “She’s got some flexibility. Maybe that’s why they thought it was a good matchup.”
Meanwhile, Robert Drysdale returned from a two-year hiatus to capture the promotion’s vacant light heavyweight crown with a first-round submission of Ryan Spann in the evening’s official main event. A rear-naked choke from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt brought a halt to the contest at the 2:58 mark of the frame.
Spann (9-3) made Drysdale (7-0) work for his championship hardware. The Beaumont, Texas native defended takedowns and submissions reasonably well in the opening stanza, punishing his foe with a few well-placed knees to the body for his efforts. The early tempo appeared to exhaust Drysdale, and Spann capitalized by blasting him with knees and punches in a furious final salvo before the end of the round.
However, Spann was not able to capitalize on his momentum in the second frame. Drysdale eventually worked his way into the clinch and took his man’s back. From there, he dragged Spann down and elicited the tapout with the fight-ending choke.
In other action: Josh Quayhagen (9-5) took a unanimous verdict (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Rey Trujillo (19-16) at lightweight; Cody Williams (10-6) submitted Ryan Hollis (11-10) with an arm-triangle choke 4:35 into round two at bantamweight; Matthew Mooney (5-1) tapped Gage Duhon (5-3) with an armbar just 14 seconds into their lightweight encounter; and Brendan Allen (4-1) submitted Clovis Hancock (2-1) with a rear-naked choke 1:54 into the second round of their middleweight bout.