Mackenzie Dern is well-known in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The BJJ black belt has a long list of accolades that include ADCC Champion, World Champion, World Pro Champion and No Gi World Champion.
Now, the daughter of Wellington “Megaton” Dias is getting into mixed martial arts and holds a 2-0 record, fighting under Legacy FC. However, Dern is eyeing a UFC debut perhaps as early as 2017.
“The UFC talked to us already,” Dern told MMA Junkie. “My team and my coaches, we talked with them, and we definitely want to – I want to be there. I’m hoping in 2017 I’ll be there. But I don’t want to get just thrown into the shark tank. I want to go in there being a shark. I don’t want to be the fish for the sharks.
“I respect all the girls there, and I know they’re at the highest level. It’s not jiu-jitsu. It’s a different sport. And I know that jiu-jitsu can help me for so long, but I know that sooner or later, I’ll have to be ready to take them down or something like that. So we’re just taking our time. I hope in 2017 I can be in the UFC. We’re just being patient and trying to get better as fast as possible. And while I’m doing that, I’m just enjoying the process.”
While Dern is transitioning to mixed martial arts, she isn’t stepping away from competitive jiu-jitsu, for now.
“I think for all athletes in the beginning, it’s hard to live off of MMA. It’s no different for me. I’m still not at the phase where I can live just off of it. People think that doing jiu-jitsu is just for fun, but jiu-jitsu is my job. A lot of people that do MMA, they do part-time jobs, but jiu-jitsu is my job. I think that as long as I can’t live just off of MMA, I’ll keep doing jiu-jitsu.”
With so many techniques and aspects of the game to work on in mixed martial arts, Dern says it’s something she is enjoying with the learning curve and is still working out some of the kinks. Dern missed weight in her last bout earlier this month, weighing in at 118.3 pounds for her strawweight bout while her opponent, Montana Stewart stepped on the scales weighing in at 115.5 pounds. Stewart received a percentage of Dern’s fight purse for missing weight.
“I didn’t slow down my jiu-jitsu, but I still feel that I’m learning so much in MMA. And it’s good to have that feeling back. That’s what motivates me – to go in there one day and have my coach show me something and seeing it works when I try it at sparring the next day. Of course in jiu-jitsu, we have new girls coming to the back belt all the time, and it’s growing. That’s why I still love to compete. But I wanted to learn again, to feel myself getting better, becoming a better athlete.”
With a quickly growing fanbase, Dern is looking to be an advocate for the sport of jiu-jitsu with her performances in the sport of mixed martial arts and hopes her fans that have been with her from the start will be able to witness her capture a championship title.
“I think the MMA world is the perfect place to help people be more aware of jiu-jitsu, and female sports and female athletes. So I’m happy, and I really hope that I help get more people excited about women’s jiu-jitsu and jiu-jitsu in general. To be compared to Demian Maia and Ronda Rousey – I’m so honored. What Ronda did for women in MMA and what Demian did for jiu-jitsu, if I could get the best of both worlds, that’s awesome.”