The next big star in the UFC could be Mackenzie Dern, who makes her UFC debut at UFC 222 on March 3 in Las Vegas against Ashley Yoder. Dern is considered one of the top female BJJ fighters in the world and many people are already comparing her to Ronda Rousey. Dern is unbeaten in her MMA career and like Rousey, she has good looks. The UFC has been searching for the next female star without success, as fighters like Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes simply don’t have the looks of a fighter like Rousey or Dern.
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Dern is 5-0 in her MMA career. She won all four of her fights in Legacy before winning her only fight in Invicta FC, as she submitted Kaline Medeiros in December of 2017. Dern is a former World No. 1 ranked IBJJF competitor and an AFCC and BJJ World Champion.
Dern is being compared to Rousey but Dern could be even better than Rousey, as Rousey was a one trick pony, as she had the armbar and nothing else. Dern has been training with John Crouch for years and she is also getting advice from former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
Dern will be competing in the newly created strawweight division and there is no reason she won’t dominate. "She will be bigger than Ronda Rousey before Ronda Rousey lost," Henderson said on The MMA Hour. "She's going to be huge. She's going to be big. She has an excellent work ethic. Go look her up, she is a multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion. She's won ADCC. She's won Abu Dhabi. She's won Worlds. She's the current No. 1 ranked female jiu-jitsu practitioner on the planet.”
Henderson said that Dern has superb skills on the mat and that her striking is improving. “She has an amazing work ethic. She's an amazing athlete. She definitely needs to work on her MMA skills, but her ground game is phenomenal. Any woman on the planet goes to the ground with Mackenzie and Mackenzie is going to tap her, or dominate her like she did her first opponent."
Dern will be heavily favored to defeat Yoder at UFC 222 in March. Yoder is 5-2 in her career, but she has lost her only two UFC bouts. Dern said to MMAFighting.com that she is ready for the UFC. “For sure I want to go to the UFC,” Dern said, “I’m just thinking that I’m ready to go to the UFC because I believe in my ground enough. I know for sure just with my ground that I can beat some of the girls. I think I can beat any of the girls. I believe so much in my jiu-jitsu. I know the reality; any of the girls, they can beat me too if they got one punch on me of course, or maybe they can get me in a submission.”
Dern said that her toughest challenge was the weight cut but now that she has conquered that she is ready for anything. “I feel like I’m ready to go in there to be able to keep growing as a fighter. I believe in my jiu-jitsu. I believe in my stand-up. I believe in my heart and the hard work, so I think I can fight a lot of the girls there. Of course I can win. I can lose, but I think I’m ready for the level. I think the biggest test was the weight cut.”
UFC 222 takes place on March 3 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The early announced fights for UFC 222 in addition to Dern vs. Yoder are C.B. Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard, Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira, Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath and Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski.
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