Mackenzie Dern: On the Rise to Strawweight Elite

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A historic day for Mackenzie Dern and the strawweight division.

Mackenzie Dern On the Rise

It was a Battle of Moms in the strawweight division at the UFC Apex, as Mackenzie Dern made quick work of Nina Nunes. Her strategy to push the pace worked to her advantage against a fighter who has been out since 2019.

This fight was a classic tale of striker vs. grappler. Nunes, formally known as Nina Ansaroff, trains out of American Top Team. She knew her advantage coming in would be on the feet, yet Dern’s frantic pace never allow Nunes to get things going on the feet.

With 3 minutes and 45 seconds left in the first round, Mackenzie Dern had the single leg before stepping through and finishing the takedown. It took a minute and a half for Dern to pass into half guard, then about 27 seconds to get the full mount, where she put her ground-and-pound on display. With about a minute and 15 seconds left in the first round, Dern transitioned into her armbar attempt that she would eventually finish.

As a BJJ World Champion, her technical execution did not warrant a sneaky transition. While in a compromised position on her back, Nunes was well-aware of what Dern’s intentions were, yet was unable to stop her seamless armbar attempt. With only 12 seconds left in the first round, Nunes was given no other choice but to tap or snap.

Coming in, Mackenzie Dern knew she would be making history simply by showing up to be one of the first females to fight on a UFC card on ABC. More history was written with Mackenzie’s fourth submission victory, giving her the most submission wins in UFC strawweight history. Dern is currently tied for the most finishes overall in the division, but the record books are subject to change with some of the biggest strawweights fights scheduled to come in 2021.

Mutual respect between the mothers was shown after the fight. Dern’s incredible performance made the statement clear: she is an elite strawweight contender. The question remains on Mackenzie Dern would perform against the cream of the crop competition, like Zhang Weili, Rose Namajunas, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Fans and analysts will be able to directly compare strawweight film from the same month after UFC 261 takes place in Florida on April 24th. In the meantime, Mackenzie Dern plans to continue improving her striking at Jason Parillo’s private RVCA gym in Costa Mesa alongside her beautiful daughter Moa Santos and her professional surfer husband.

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