Following a successful Octagon debut at UFC 222, grappling standout Mackenzie Dern immediately asked for an opportunity to compete at the Las Vegas-based promotion’s upcoming pay-per-view event in Rio de Janeiro.
Dern’s wish was granted, as she will face Amanda Bobby Cooper at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro on May 12. One of the biggest incentives for Dern to compete at UFC 224, she recently told Portal do Vale Tudo, is it will be the first time her father, Wellington “Megaton” Dias, will get to see her compete in mixed martial arts.
"It's very special for me to fight in Rio,” Dern said. “It was something I had asked the UFC to do. I was very happy that they gave me this opportunity. My family will be all present, and it will be the first time my father will watch me fighting MMA.”
Dern entered her first promotional foray with plenty of hype behind her, but she struggled to take opponent Ashley Yoder down for much of the contest and was even dropped in the second frame. However, she did enough damage on the feet and in the clinch -- while making a final imprint on the fight with a late takedown – to capture a split-decision triumph. At just 25 years old, there is still plenty of room to grow for Dern, who may be a victim of unrealistic expectations this early in her UFC career.
“Every fight is a new challenge for me,” she said. “I always try to be a better version of myself, technically and physically. I’m here to conquer my place in the sun and be a champion.”