Mackenzie Dern Details fallout from her divorce ahead of UFC 295: ‘This whole fight is still paying my ex’

Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern hopes that someday soon, she can look back and see all of the chaos behind her instead of constantly surrounding her.

Ahead of her clash with Angela Hill in May, news broke that Dern was in the middle of a tumultuous divorce with her ex-husband that also included a custody battle for their daughter. By the time fight night rolled around, her divorce had been finalized, but as anyone who has gone through the process knows, it rarely ends with the paperwork.

“I realized we always have problems,” Dern said during the UFC 295 media day. “Just the pressure. The last one I went through the divorce. The divorce is final but you don’t realize how much aftermath there is to it. Literally, this whole fight is still paying my ex. It’s crazy, I have to get punched in the face and you work so hard and you do all this and you have to like pay that much of something.

“Money’s something, I’ll fight here, I’ll get it, whatever. Winning or losing, everything’s going to be taken care of. I’ll make more [money] and stuff like that but it’s just problems” (h/t MMA Fighting).

Adding to the chaos ahead of her highly anticipated return to the Octagon on Saturday night was the closing of her gym. To compensate, Dern set up a private training facility in her home and spent some time training with former two-division UFC titleholder Henry Cejudo.

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“RVCA closed so I basically made my own home gym,” Dern explained. “You just keep investing in your dream and hope that it works. I’m trying to make everything private at home because you’re just very vulnerable when everyone’s seeing your training. I’m a world champion in jiu-jitsu but people see me in the gym and I’m crying, I’m frustrated because I feel I should be better at something. I feel like I should be able to get it and I don’t get it. It’s not working.

“There’s injuries and there’s a ton of stuff that keeps going on and you’re like I just want to be able to train and get better. I don’t know. In the fight it comes out. It all works out.”

Mackenzie Dern Refuses to use her personal struggles as an excuse

Slowly becoming a master of the chaos, Mackenzie Dern decided to inject a new dynamic into her home.

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“I got a new puppy — I think I even invent more problems, more chaos,” Dern said with a laugh. “I thrive on that, the craziness. The puppy and all these things. Getting used to splitting your daughter half of the time with you, half of the time with the dad and all these things. You’re learning so many new dynamics in your routine.

“My whole life when I was training to be a world champion in jiu-jitsu, my best times of being a world champion was when I had a routine and I had a schedule and you’re able to keep focused. I think that’s why it’s hard to be a mom and try to be a world champion, to be the champion in the UFC because you need to be consistent in your training. When you don’t feel you’re consistent in your day-to-day life, one day is this, one day is that, you’re like I just need to train. You just make it work.”

Dern did make it clear that she was by no means creating excuses for herself, recognizing that other fighters deal with these same personal issues all the time. In fact, her UFC 295 opponent, Jessica Andrade, revealed that she was also going through a divorce ahead of Saturday’s showdown.

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“It definitely wasn’t easy but I understand that’s what everyone goes through,” Dern said. “Everyone’s having problems. Everyone has injuries, we’re fighters. I think Jessica, she talked about she had a divorce, too. It’s kind of crazy the fans get to watch us let out all of our stress and everything on another person in a fight but that’s what we’re trained for. That’s what makes the victory more special.”

Mackenzie Dern enters her fight with Andrade alternating wins and losses in her last four bouts. Overall she is 8-3 under the UFC banner and on the cusp of a potential strawweight title opportunity. With a big win over ‘Bate Estaca’ in Madison Square Garden, Dern’s next fight could very well be for UFC gold.