At 29 years old, Mackenzie Dern has his life shaped in MMA, UFC and jiu-jitsu – where he holds a black belt in the martial art. Born in Arizona, she is the daughter of former wrestler Wellington “Megaton” Dias, responsible for introducing her to the sport. In a meteoric rise in the organization’s strawweight, she faces Yan Xiaonan, the number 6 of the category, this Saturday, in Las Vegas.
American-Brazilian, Mackenzie chooses to defend Brazil in the UFC, for her family, friends and Brazilian fans – who keep increasing. In the organization since 2018, the fighter lives the best years of her career, both inside and outside the Octagon. With five wins and only one loss in the last three years, Mackenzie is making his way as one of the top names in the category.
Amidst her MMA success, she took time off from her MMA career because of her pregnancy. Moa, now three years old, is the result of her relationship with surfer Wesley Santos. In an interview with Estadão before her fight on Saturday, at UFC Fight Night, she reflects on the image and example she wants to pass on to her daughter, at the same time that she continues her quest for the UFC belt.
“Moa is awesome, it’s an extra incentive for my career. I’ve always fought to be world champion, for the belt, but now I fight for her too. I need to feed her and be an example for what she wants to be. in the future”, says Mackenzie. The fighter looks up to her father, Megaton, to teach her daughter.
“A lot of the way I train and fight is because of my father. He showed me the best way to fight, the way to deal with my problems, and I want to repeat that with Moa”, says Mackenzie. “If she wants to be a lawyer, doctor or even a fighter, I will support her. What I want is to teach her and at the end of the day she will be proud of me.”
In her fights and training, Mackenzie takes her daughter to the Octagon. “She arrives and tries to teach me in training. ‘That’s not how you hit, Mom. Hit it that way’. She helps me a lot, gives me water. It’s an extra strength for me”, says the fighter.
MACKENZIE DERN FIGHT IN THE UFC
In April, Mackenzie defeated American Tecia Torres. Since then, she has been preparing for the bout, which was only set in July. “I knew I would fight in October, but not against whom. They even considered the interim belt, but I knew I needed to prepare myself, regardless of who the opponent was”, she says.
Mackenzie says that since April, he has been looking forward to his new fight. “When they closed the fight with Yan, I was already prepared”, she says. During this last camp, she focused on wrestling-although she didn’t really like that style of combat-, hoping her opponent could be more defensive.
“I’m more focused on jiu-jitsu, but I’ve improved a lot in the last few months. I fall and get up better, in addition to having gained a lot of muscle mass during the camping”. Mackenzie also jokes, when he reflects on his last defeat – against Brazilian Marina Rodriguez -, that the objective is to finish the fight as soon as possible. “When I take Yan to the ground, she can’t get up anymore.”
A win on Saturday could bring Mackenzie closer to a title shot. With 12 wins and only two losses on her record, the Brazilian would still like to have one last fight before fighting for the world title. “I need to make sure I’m prepared. If I beat Yan and they put me up for the belt, maybe I’ll be carried away by emotion and make wrong decisions”, she says.
“In my defeats, I realized that I paid a lot of attention to my surroundings, the opposing coaching staff and the cheers of the crowd. Today, when I go to the fight, I don’t think about anything other than the fight”, says Mackenzie. Against Marina, the Brazilian was defeated by unanimous decision of the judges.
FIGHT IN BRAZIL
In January, the UFC returns to Brazil after almost three years of hiatus. On January 21, Rio hosts the first event since March 2020. Still without a defined card, Mackenzie does not hide that he would like to be among those present. “It will be difficult and, honestly, I don’t think it will happen (to fight in January in Brazil). Due to the short preparation time, the camping would have to be more intense and it would hinder my development”, says Mackenzie. On the other hand, she is sure that she will be present in Brazil in January, at least as a spectator.
“Fighting in Brazil is always very special. Being with my family, friends and fans gives me more energy to compete. In 2018, also in Rio, I failed to win the knockout of the night for not taking enough weight off the scales “, reports Mackenzie. “I want to have a second chance, as soon as possible, to erase this negative memory of the country.”
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