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Mackenzie Dern Plans To End Jiu-Jitsu Career On Top, Make UFC Debut in 2017

Mackenzie Dern Plans To End Jiu-Jitsu Career On Top, Make UFC Debut in 2017

Jiu-jitsu superstar Mackenzie Dern plans to finish her jiu-jitsu career at No. 1 before moving to MMA for good.

Feb 23, 2017 by Duane Finley
Mackenzie Dern #FCRoadTrip Interview
There is a lot of buzz surrounding Mackenzie Dern in the world of combat sports.

The jiu-jitsu phenom has been destroying her competition on mats around the globe since she was a teenager, and her special brand of dominance has earned the Arizona native the coveted position as the No. 1-ranked BJJ competitor in the world. The 23-year-old grappling ace then cranked up the volume of the buzz surrounding her by crossing over into the realm of mixed martial arts, where she's claimed victories over the first two opponents she faced inside the cage.

While back-to-back wins straight out of the gates in MMA put Dern on larger radars around the sport, her most recent victory over Montana Stewart back in October put the two-time Abu Dhabi World Cup Gold Medal winner on the brink of superstardom. Critics began to chip away at Dern in the aftermath of her official MMA debut against Kenia Rosas at LFC 58 due to her opponent surviving to see the judges' scorecards.

There would be no critics remaining following her second showing as a professional.

The MMA Lab representative put in her bid for submission of the year in MMA as she put Rosa away with a rarely seen Imanari Choke in the first round of their tilt at LFC 61 in Dallas, Texas.

And while the choke Dern used to finish Stewart wowed fans all around the globe, the move is somewhat old hat to the top-ranked jiu-jitsu practitioner. She's been tapping both training partners inside the gym and opponents in tournaments with the submission, but Dern's focus has shifted away from flashy moves on the mat.

In order to become the champion and dominant force she's driven to be in the MMA world, Dern knows she'll have to pose a threat from any and all vantage points inside the cage.

"The big thing right now is my standup," Dern told FloCombat. "I'm still a little bit active in jiu-jitsu right now even though they are pushing me to go 100 percent just MMA. It's so hard for me to leave the jiu-jitsu game and I'm not quite ready to do that. My jiu-jitsu timing is still very good, we are really just working the standup."

With Dern's profile in MMA growing rapidly, there has been speculation the jiu-jitsu wizard will step away from the sport she built her name within, and dive headlong into the world of punches, kicks, knees and elbows. And while Dern doesn't deny the existence of pressure to put jiu-jitsu behind her once and for all, grappling fans can rest easy because the Queen of the Mats still has a few things she's aiming to accomplish.

"Right now I did the Europeans this year. I came back and had a superfight for 'Fight to Win,'" Dern said. "I would like to do the Pan American Championships, which is one weekend after my upcoming MMA fight so I'm hoping I don't get injured. Right now I am [ranked] No. 1 in the world [in jiu-jitsu], so I would like to go into the UFC being No. 1 in the world. The ranking finishes at the Worlds, then hopefully I can make my debut in the UFC this year, maybe in June or July. I would like to do that.

"I told myself when I'm in the UFC then I'll be 100 percent [MMA]. Maybe if I don't have a fight coming up maybe I'll do a superfight or do the ADCC, but not doing all these other tournaments I've been doing so much. It's addicting. So addicting."