The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist has made it clear that her ground work is going to be the easiest path to victory in the main event this Saturday.
Mackenzie Dern, ranked #4 in the women’s strawweight division, has earned an MMA record of 11-1, with 7 wins by way of submission. Her upcoming fight is against Muay Thai specialist Marina Rodriguez, trailing just behind Dern in the rankings at #6.
Dern, coming off of a 4 fight win streak, says she’s been waiting for the opportunity to be on a headline poster, “Finally, it’s my turn… We’ve been training a long time for this. It’s a main event so I’m excited to see what kind of numbers I bring in… I’m always better under pressure. Always. Since my jiu-jitsu career. Like the regional events, I always fight worse than the big events. So, I’m always able to grow to the occasion. This is what I’ve been waiting for, so I’m really excited about it.”
Dern says that training with Jason Parillo and his team of fighters at RVCA has improved her striking, which opens up the opportunities to use her BJJ black belt, “Just my striking with [Parillo] is making my submissions come way easier than before, when I’m just trying to hug the person and close the distance, and I’m not really knowing what I’m doing. Now, they kind of have to think about my strikes and my punches, and the takedown is coming way easier. I think that’s why my submissions have come even easier because of how Jason Parillo is not making me a striker but he’s making me a champion… I’m going against a striker, the strategy isn’t to be standing up there with her. I don’t wanna try to compare my striking to her striking. Of course, if I go the whole 5 rounds striking, I’m ready for that. I’m confident of that. But, I think the easiest way to beat her is by the ground, you know? So, definitely this fight was planned to get to the ground… Definitely let’s just get it to the ground… I prefer to fight a 100% striker than someone like Rose [Namajunas], for example, who’s good at striking, has knockouts, and has flying armbars, and she’s not a fish-out-of-water on the ground.”
In the long term, Dern wants to be the champion at 115 lbs, but she also has her eyes on the 125 lb title and thinks that she could be the one to knock Valentina Shevchenko off of her throne, “I fought at 125 before, but it was not a strong Mackenzie, it was kind of like a lazy Mackenzie, like not so professional. So, definitely just watching Valentina, you know, she’s [had] a long time with the belt. The girls are trying, we’re trying. But I’m like ‘Man, we need someone to fight her, maybe a jiu-jitsu girl is the one to beat her, who knows?’”
She noted that motherhood has brought an unwavering motivation into her training, where most fighters have to constantly find new motivations to keep them going, “The focus of being a mom, I don’t have to look for the motivation all the time… When you have a daughter at home… It’s just constant motivation all the time. You always remember who you’re really doing this for.”