Mackenzie Dern is really, really good at Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
A quick glance at her Wikipedia page will show a long list all her accolades. However, none of this means that her UFC opponents are going to just roll over once they get on the mat. Despite her dominance on the ground, Dern failed to wrap up a submission in each of her past two outings even after putting both Marina Rodriguez and Tecia Torres in extremely compromised positions.
While the 29-year-old strawweight contender isn’t suddenly questioning her skills on the ground, Dern acknowledges the mistakes that have been made by perhaps showing a little bit too much sportsmanship.
“They’re tough. They are the greatest of the best,” Dern said to The Fighter vs. The Writer about her level of competition. “We’re not playing here. These are former champions, champions, and they’re not going to tap because they feel pressure. It’s like Tecia. I’m on Tecia’s kimura, and as I do it I feel like 98% of people would tap. It’s not enough to just tear it. They might tear their shoulder or need surgery. Of course, that’s not my goal but we’re all adults here. They will try to harm me.
“It’s just ingrained from memory like I need to do it. Technically, I will need to do the job. But, I won’t say, “OK, let her tap.” No, I want to go. She’s resisting, she knows she’s in a bad position. These are things that I’m thinking about during the fight like pretty soon she’s going to tap. Oh shoot, she’s not tapping. She’s resisting! These girls are strong. These girls are not going to stop at anything .”
Because of her extensive experience in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (and her own grappling skills), Dern spent much of her mixed martial art career trying to improve her other aspects.
Although Dern is proud to have become a fighter, her inability to learn all aspects of the sport and not as much focus on grappling could have led her down the path of submitting.
“With Marina and Tecia, I got in good positions to submit them, with both of them,” Dern explained. Marina gave me the omo plata and I did not finish it. Tecia was my opponent. I tried a kimura, a leg lock, and didn’t succeed. Definitely even with a loss and a win, I’m learning something. I need to get my timing better.
” I think that I may have lost some of my adjustment skills, but I am not as precise with my submissions timings which is my strength. These positions are important and I should not be losing them or not submitting .”
So what exactly will change in her upcoming fight?
She promised that Yan Xiaonan will not be stuck at the same bad places at UFC Vegas 61, as Rodriguez and Torres, so either Dern or she will do the smart thing to tap out.
” I lost the timing to make that submission, and not letting that get away so strongly. Dern stated that he’s been working hard on this for fight. I guess it’s a bit more meaner, but hey, everyone signed up for this fight and now we are on a whole new level. I’m excited.
” I can’t lose those places. There is no way I can lose the battle. Whatever she gives me, the back, the neck, the foot, leg, arm whatever she’ll give me. We’ll see. Hopefully she’ll tap.”