After a trailblazing career in jiu-jitsu, Mackenzie Dern made the transition to mixed martial artist at UFC 222, when she defeated Ashley Yoder via split decision.
Speaking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, she claimed she didn’t feel the pressure on her when she stepped inside the octagon for the first time.
”I swear, it felt so normal. I was so relaxed…I was just looking at Ashley, trying to focus on what I wanted to do. I felt like I was meant to be there. Didn’t feel any nervous at all, like UFC jitters. It felt great to be there.”
Dern’s father Wellington “Megaton” Dias, a Brazilian icon in the jiu-jitsu circuit, watched the fight from home because he was nervous.
”He’s a little scared, ‘oh, that was scary,’ but he’s happy about it,” Dern said with a laugh. “He’s waiting for me to go back to Arizona to see him. That’s the whole thing. People ask me about him, but he’s been my coach for so many years, we really just want to preserve the relationship of father and daughter.”
”My whole weight cut, you kind of tripping out a little bit, so many saunas, you say things you don’t really know what you’re saying, and to see me go to a fight where maybe I get knocked down and have to fight out of it, I don’t know if a father wants to see that all the time. I think it was good that he saw it from his couch, with my family there, with the dogs.”
Getting to experience the atmosphere of a UFC event, Dern told Helwani that she knew she made the right call in going into MMA.
”I felt like I was meant to be there,” Dern said.
“I know that each fight I’m gonna be a better fighter, really enforced like, yeah, this is what I’m meant to do. I made the right decision to stop jiu-jitsu now and focus on this, and I’m excited for the next fight. Hopefully I can be at UFC in Rio (on May 12). I’m ready to get this black eye away and get back to training.”