Mackenzie Dern has hit the fast-track to stardom in MMA, securing her fifth career win this past Friday night in her debut with Invicta FC.

The 24-year-old MMA Lab-trained Dern locked in her third submission against Kaline Medeiros in the co-main event of Invicta FC 26. The card streamed live on UFC Fight Pass from the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City.

After turning pro in 2016 following an illustrious career in jiu-jitsu, Dern felt pressure to perform each time out. Now, though, she is working to better herself for herself.

“Everyone was telling me I needed to prove myself,” Dern said. “Probably people will say something about her too, but she was a big challenge. I need to prove for me, not everybody else.”

With a background in submission thanks to her many titles around the world in jiu-jitsu, Dern felt the need to improve her striking through training and the fight with Medeiros, a six-year veteran of the sport with 14 career fights on her resume.

Still, locking up a finishing hold did add a little something special to the performance.

“I think I did good standing up and the cherry on top was the submission,” she said. “We trained for me to not go for the submission and instead pound it more. It was the last round and not that much left so I saw the opening and went for the submission.”

Dern will now return to her training under the watchful eye of former UFC lightweight champion and current Bellator MMA fighter Benson Henderson and others in Arizona as she continues her pursuit of MMA gold to add to her resume.

“It’s helping me feel more comfortable working my striking with a striking,” Dern said. “I’m ready to go back and watch the fight and see what I can improve on.”