Highly hyped prospect Mackenzie Dern has Brazilian roots hence her UFC 224 fight was homecoming of sorts for her. She had a chance to put up a stellar performance and she didn’t disappoint.
Her opponent Amanda ‘ABC’ Cooper who has a boxing background got clipped by a huge right hand from Dern before Dern strangulated her in a rear naked choke to register her second victory with the organization. Her victory however was discredited as she missed weight by a massive 7 pounds.
On her debut against Ashley Yoder at UFC 222 in March, she missed the weight by one pound but managed to make the limit in the extra time given to her. However missing weight by 7 pounds was considered a ‘disgrace to all professionals’ not only by her opponent Amanda Cooper who took the fight but by analysts like Dominick Cruz and Chael Sonnen. Dern addressed her failed weight cut in her post-fight press conference.
“Everyone’s been asking me what happened at weigh-ins. I can tell you 10,000 excuses, but I really believe that what happened with my weight is way back months ago with my last fight. I think it’s my diet. I need to get my diet right,” Dern said. “The fact that I was able to do it before, I thought I knew what I was doing. A lot of things have been happening. It’s not an excuse. I missed flights and a lot of things and I just kept going and going.
“The UFC since the first day I got here was trying to help me, and I was saying I was gonna be able to make weight,” she continued. “On Friday at 9 a.m. I wasn’t cutting any more weight. I was in the sauna, there was no more water coming out, I wasn’t sweating, I couldn’t walk anymore. And the commission said you can’t keep going. Thankfully Amanda accepted the fight. I’m ashamed of that. I don’t want that to happen again.”
Dern who was a multiple time BJJ gold medalist before transitioning into MMA, said that competing in jiu-jitsu competitions helped her to deal with criticisms surrounding her weight leading up to fight.
“I think it was my experience being a competitor. I’ve spent my whole life in jiu-jitsu with people always demanding a lot. My father [Wellington “Megaton” Dias] is a legend in the sport, so people are always demanding a lot of things, but I felt even if I won people would say it’s because of my weight. I didn’t think much about it.
“I think what helped the most was the fact I was here in Brazil. If I was in Vegas or another place I would’ve felt it more…I knew that people here would support me either way. Fighting in Brazil gave me the extra motivation I needed.”
“I don’t take steroids. I wasn’t popping for anything. There’s champions that are caught with drugs and cocaine and things like that,” Dern said. “For me it’s a mistake. The UFC is investing in me and I’m gonna work with them for that not to happen ever again.”
Dern who recently switched camps from MMA lab in Glendale, Arizona to Checkmat gym for BJJ and Black house gym for striking will now also work with UFC performance institute for weight cut issues. She might have to undergo a mock weight cut just like featherweight Jared Gordon did to prove that she can fight at strawweight.
“On Friday, [matchmaker Mick Maynard] called me and said, ‘We have an Institute in Vegas and we want you here. We’re going to work with you.’ I can’t lose that opportunity to get all this help from this organization. It’s gonna help me make weight,” she said. “They’ve already told me that even without a fight, they’re gonna tell me in a couple months that I’m gonna need to make weight, and they’re gonna stay on me. But that’s what I need. It’s not that it’s not important to me. It’s very important. I believe in what they’re offering to me. I’m gonna take their help.”