Mackenzie Dern has the look.
The 25-year-old ADCC and no gi BJJ world champion has the skills.
But will all of that translate to a successful run inside the Octagon?
This past March, Dern made her UFC debut at UFC 222, scoring a split decision over Ashley Yoder. Prior to signing with the promotion, she had scored wins for Invicta FC and Legacy Fighting Alliance, and will carry an unbeaten mark of 6-0 into her bout Saturday at UFC 224 vs. Amanda Cooper.
All, though, has not been easy for Dern. She’s dealt with being booted from The MMA Lab in Phoenix and hearing claims that she isn’t ready for the big leagues.
Dern won 76 matches in her grappling career, including a run that saw her go 11-2 during one stretch.
Last December, she locked up a third round submission on Kaline Medeiros, adding to her first round submission wins over Mandy Pork and Montana Stewart. She’s also shown her ability to fight off opponents by going the distance with Yoder, Katherine Roy and Kenia Rosas.
Dern was born around grappling, as he father, Wellington “Megaton” Dias, was a decorated grappler and had her traveling from Arizona to Brazil at an early age. Her ability to be fluent in both English and Portuguese could help make her a star in the UFC.
For that to happen, though, she’ll have to solve Cooper, who is 3-3 in her pro career including two wins inside the Octagon over Angela Magana and Anna Elmose. This is definitely the biggest fight of Dern’s career, but she knows that if the bout goes to the ground, it is dangerous for Cooper – who has lost all three of her pro fights via submission.
Look for Dern to impose her will early on, lock up a quick hold and celebrate in Rio de Janeiro before moving on to bigger things later this year in the UFC’s strawweight division.
Below is the current UFC 224 fight card:
MAIN CARD (PPV/10 p.m. ET)
UFC Female Bantamweight Championship
Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Raquel Pennington
Middleweight: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Cooper
Bantamweight: John Lineker vs. Brian Kelleher
Middleweight: Lyoto Machida vs. Vitor Belfort
PRELIMINARY CARD (FX/8 p.m. ET)
Middleweight: Cezar Ferreira vs. Karl Roberson
Heavyweight: Aleksei Oliynik vs. Junior Albini
Lightweight: Davi Ramos vs. Nick Hein
Welterweight: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Sean Strickland
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass/6:30 p.m. ET)
Welterweight: Warlley Alves vs. Sultan Aliev
Middleweight: Thales Leites vs. Jack Hermansson
Welterweight: Alberto Mina vs. Ramazan Emeev