Ahead of her UFC Vegas 39 headliner this weekend, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, Mackenzie Dern has not ruled out a leap to the flyweight ranks in the future from her current strawweight home, even suggesting it may take a seasoned grappler to stop the dominant reign of current flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko.
Arizona-born grappling maestro, Dern has won her last four on the bounce. And makes her headlining bow under the promotion’s banner this weekend at the UFC Apex facility — taking on Rio Grande do Sul-born Muay Thai talent, Marina Rodriguez in pivotal, potential strawweight title-eliminator.
11-1 as a professional, Dern’s sole professional blemish came in the form of a unanimous decision to fellow strawweight talent, Amanda Ribas — lodged an impressive six UFC victories since her organizational bow back in March 2018.
Dern, who plys her trade alongside the renowned Jason Parillo at California-based facility, RVCA, managed a statement win over the returning Nina Nunes back in April at UFC on ABC 2 — submitting the American Top Team staple with a late opening round armbar win, becoming the most prolific strawweight grappler in the history of the promotion with four submission stoppages.
Currently clutching the #4 rank at strawweight, Dern, a nine-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion across her decorated grappling career, suggested a grappling force, as proficient as herself may prove to be the kryptonite of flyweight pack leader, Shevchenko.
“I’m working with Rogerio Camoes — he’s making me stronger, just feeling good,” Mackenzie Dern told assembled media at the UFC Vegas 39 media day. “I fought at 125(lbs) before, but it was not a very strong Mackenzie. I was like of like a little bit lazy Mackenzie, like not so professional.“
“Definitely just watching Valentina (Shevchenko), you know, she’s a long time at the belt,” Mackenzie Dern continued. “The girls are trying, we’re trying, but I’m like, we need someone to fight her. Maybe a Jiu-Jitsu girl is the one to beat her. Who knows, you know? But definitely. I can see myself getting to 125(lbs), but as a fit Mackenzie, you know? That idea is getting more and more attractive to me, to go in and try and just make history.” (H/T MMA Junkie)
As for Shevchenko, the Kyrgyzstan native turned in a record-setting fifth successful title defense at UFC 266 earlier this month — eventually stopping challenger, Lauren Murphy with fourth round ground strikes. Shevchenko has since been linked with a trilogy bout against current two-weight champion, Amanda Nunes.