MMA and especially the UFC was dominated by fighters of world renowned gyms like Jackson Wink in Albuquerque, American Top Team in Coconut Creek, MMA Alliance, Blackzillians, etc. However the rise of the MMA lab in Phoenix, Arizona has been commendable. With head coach John Crouch and assistant coaches like former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, the lab has been grooming a new breed of fighters.
Just like many current UFC fighters like John Moraga, Jeremy Kimball, Bryan Barbarena, Alex Cacares, Sean O’Malley, Scott Holtzman, Lauren Murphy, Jordan Johnson, Drakkar Klose, Courtney Casey, etc, the recent addition to the UFC strawweight division Mackenzie Dern started her professional career rise in 2016 training at the MMA lab.
During a recent media lunch in Los Angeles, the multiple-time BJJ gold medalist revealed that Crouch himself asked her to leave the team after her UFC debut at UFC 222 in March against Ashley Yoder.
“In relation with the Lab, after my last fight, Coach [John] Crouch, he just invited me to leave the team,” Dern said (via 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.”
Dern has since moved her training to California at Checkmat gym for her BJJ training and Black house MMA for striking. According to her, the environment she was in played a huge role in her decision.
“I’m not just training. I’m not the person that the next day I’m back in the academy,” Dern said. “I like to be able to be on the beach and relax and miss to be on the mats and want to be on the mats. I don’t like to feel the pressure to be on the mats.
“I’m on the mats since I’m 3 years old. For me, at 25, when I have the time to rest and everything, then the next time, it’s like man I want to train. I like to have that drive.”
Crouch however in an another statement said that Dern was having problems with the training setup at the MMA Lab which was why he told he asked her to make the move.
“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 said. “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.”
Dern takes on Amanda Cooper in the main card of UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12.