Highly decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Mackenzie Dern made her long-awaited UFC debut last night, scoring a decision victory over Ashley Yoder at UFC 222 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
And although she didn’t get the finish, Dern said that she was ‘happy’ with her performance:
“I was happy with my performance,” Dern told MMAjunkie. “I didn’t think it was bad. I know everybody wants me to get a quick submission, but I’m here to show I’m a well-rounded athlete – that I can strike and go to the ground. I think when I decided I wanted to take it to the ground, I was able to. I went to her back, and I had the choke in place.
“I think the most important thing is knowing the risks I’m taking, to really keep my chin down, see the punches coming. She’s a southpaw. That was really hard. She was much – not much, but taller than me, had a distance that I’m still getting used to. I think I can take a lot from it that I can improve on.”
And in Dern’s opinion, it may have actually been beneficial that she didn’t get the finish, as she claims that it was important for her to get some rounds under her belt:
“I think the most important thing was to get to feel those three rounds in the UFC,” Dern said. “I don’t want to get to the belt not having gone to a second or third round, not having been through rough times, not having been knocked (down) or gotten scared. I think it was a good experience to feel that and get this confidence on the feet.”
Moving forward, Dern said that she’d be interested in competing again at UFC 224, which is set to take place in May in Brazil:
“I don’t think they’re going to put me on the fast track to go the title, because I think I can help the UFC just as much as they’re helping me,” Dern said. “I think, for sure, they don’t want t make a bad matchup. I think I showed I have a lot of heart. I like to fight. I don’t mind to stay standing up, and I don’t mind to go to the ground.
“So I think they’ll take the time, but I’m ready to fight. I want to fight again in May, Brazil (UFC 224, in Rio de Janeiro). I want to fight anywhere.”
Where would you like to see Dern go next?