Mackenzie Dern isn’t wasting any time returning to the Octagon.
The hyped 6-0 strawweight prospect just made her UFC debut with a hard-fought split decision win over Ashley Yoder at March 3’s UFC 222, and after calling for a fight at UFC 224 in the moments afterward, she’s headed back to the origins of her championship-winning Brazilian jiu-jitsu pedigree.
News broke from MMA Brasil Wednesday that Dern will make a fast turnaround to face former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 finalist Amanda Bobby Cooper at May 12’s UFC 224 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Dern, the daughter of BJJ great Wellington “Megaton” Dias, is widely regarded as one of the finest female submission artists in the world, owning a win over feared champion Gabi Garcia. She’s submitted her foe in three of her six total mixed martial arts bouts, and the 24-year-old Brazilian-American would appear to have a match-up tailor-made for her skillset in Cooper, who has lost all three of her defeats by submission.
But the 3-3 Cooper did make it to the TUF 20 finals, and also picked up a one-sided TKO win over Angela Magana in her last bout to regain some much-needed momentum after tapping out to a Cynthia Calvillo rear-naked choke in her prior fight at UFC 209 in 2016.
Dern did show some wild inexperience on the feet against Yoder. She was prone to wild, lunging punches that left her chin incredibly open, and indeed Yoder dropped her with a big punch at one point. Yet there’s little doubt Cooper will be in imminent danger if the fight hits the mat.
‘ABC’ doesn’t seem to be phased by that fact, however, posting that she’s been training for a long while to beat Dern and would derail her hype train:
UFC 224 features a women’s bantamweight championship bout between hometown fan favorite Amanda Nunes and challenger Raquel Pennington.