There’s been a lot of buzz in the media about #MMA prospect #Mackenzie Dern. Dern, a highly decorated Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner who transitioned to MMA in 2016, has been touted as the next “Ronda Rousey.” She’s currently 3-0 in her MMA career with wins over Kenia Rosas, Montana Stout and most recently, Katherine Roy, who she defeated at LFA 6 on March 10. Since Dern made her professional MMA debut, folks are wondering when she will come to the UFC. It might not be that long.
Mackenzie Dern on the UFC radar
In an interview with TMZ, UFC President Dana White confirmed that his promotion is checking out the MMA prospect and referred to her as “a little badass.” As much as fans like to give White guff, he is a fight fan and I’m not surprised that he’s a fan of her work. In an August interview with the MMA Hour, Dern said she would like to fight for a UFC title by the end of 2017. Although Dern has only competed in professional MMA for over a year, it wouldn’t surprise me to see her compete in a future UFC event. In the past, the promotion has brought in MMA fighters with little experience and thrust them in the spotlight.
Yes, Mackenzie Dern is a badass
If a fan only looks at Dern’s MMA record, of course they’ll say “well, she’s only got three fights.” However, if they count her whole combat sports record -- specifically her Brazilian jiu jitsu background -- then it could be argued that she’s no stranger to top competition.
Dern, a black belt BJJ practitioner under her father, began practicing Brazilian jiu jitsu when she was three years old. By the time she was a teenager, Dern was competing against grown women, similar to Rousey’s judo career. Her trophy case is filled with numerous BJJ world championships and has wins over the likes of Gabi Garcia.
Mackenzie Dern's future at the 115 division
During the TMZ interview, White noted that Dern has the potential to compete in the UFC, though fighting in the promotion is different than beating fighters in smaller promotions. Over the years, there have been a plethora of MMA fighters who stepped foot in the UFC and didn’t have the success they had in other promotions. However, there are fighters who are getting so good, so quick, that they can hang with UFC greats.
The first name that comes to mind is current UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk, who was in the UFC by her seventh MMA fight and became champion in her ninth. Dern could have that same success. Critics will point to Dern successfully making the 115 pound weight cut in her last two MMA fights. If Dern could consistently make a healthy weight cut to 115, she could be a staple in that division. Or she could move up to women’s bantamweight division.
Mackenzie Dern might need time to grow
Dern could be on a rocket to the UFC, but is that the best path right now? If Dern gets to the UFC and loses a fight or two, will that cause some backlash from fans? Fighters like Paige VanZant and Sage Northcutt were highly touted, but armchair cornermen and critics laughed and gave their “they weren’t ready” speal.
Dern is an adult and can do what she wants when it comes to her MMA career, but if she’s hoping to get some more experience before she goes to the UFC, I think it’s a good idea. That’s not something you want to rush, and the more battle-tested and experienced Dern is, the more ready she will be when she gets to the octagon.