Back in March, on the undercard of UFC 222, BJJ star Mackenzie Dern made a successful UFC debut, defeating a tough Ashley Yoder by decision. Shortly after this first Octagon win, she was asked to leave her long-time gym, Arizona’s MMA Lab.
“In relation with the Lab, after my last fight, Coach [John] Crouch, he just invited me to leave the team,” Dern said at a media luncheon promoting her UFC 224 fight with Amanda Bobby Cooper (transcribed by Marc Raimondi for MMA Fighting). “I think really we don’t have a 100-percent understanding. I think he knows his decisions more than me. I think with just the consistency, he wanted me to be there more often than what I was, but everything happens for a reason.”
Luckily, Dern’s split with Crouch and The MMA Lab doesn’t sound like it was a messy one. In a statement to MMA Fighting, the famed coach explained that Dern was having difficulty moving between Arizona and California for training, so he suggested she simply train exclusively in California.
“She was struggling to make it back and forth to Arizona, and I thought it was better that she just set up her camp in California, where she really enjoys being,” Crouch told MMA Fighting.
“I wish her the best. I know she’s going to do great in her jiu-jitsu career and in her MMA career, and we’ll be cheering for her.”
Having left The MMA Lab, which is also home to stars like Benson Henderson and Sean O’Malley, Dern is now training exclusively in the LA area. She is sharpening her BJJ with Leo Vieira at Checkmat, and developing her striking at the world-famous Blackhouse.
While Dern is thriving in California, she admitted she briefly considered relocating to Brazil.
“I think, like I said, the mindset and being confident, if you’re happy, too, with where you are, it’s the best,” she explained. “Here is a little bit similar lifestyle that I have in Brazil. I almost went back to Brazil to live there. I was even training with Jose Aldo down there and everything and seeing if I would be there. So, I have this lifestyle here in California, which gives me that good balance.”
Whatever the future holds, Dern will not be returning to Arizona to train.
“Definitely not back to Arizona,” she said.
How do you think Mackenzie Dern will perform in her second UFC bout?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/3/2018.