On December 8, grappling sensation turned MMA prospect Mackenzie Dern made her Invicta FC debut and secured the victory with a third-round submission over Kaline Medeiros. However, with an uncertain future in MMA and after having gone through various surgeries this year, any big-picture decisions have been delayed for the 24-year-old until she has certainty how her career will progress from now on.
” I wanted to train in Brazil, not because I believe the training is better than in the United States, but my connection to Rio de Janeiro is something that makes me very happy”, Dern told AG. Fight. “Where I live in Arizona, it’s a desert. So, I’m going home from the gym and from home to the gym. It’s very tiresome… I love this wonderful city that is Rio.”
“I go out on the street and I have my friends, I go dancing, I go to the beach and besides, I continue with my training. It’s something that keeps my energy levels up, it makes me feel free, it’s makes my training and fighting better. I think it just turns out that sometimes in America, life is a little different. I’m afraid that if all I do is train hard and only living this lifestyle, then suddenly in a year I won’t want to fight anymore. It wouldn’t be fun for me anymore. When I’m in Rio, that feeling disappears. I can train, have fun and live a life outside of fighting. I love coming to Rio and having my family, my friends. I think this is the biggest connection I have with Brazil, apart from my fans. I have many fans in Brazil, the people treat me very well and I feel welcomed.”
However, the decision on whether or not she’ll move to Brazil depends on what her fighting future has in store for Dern. Given that she’s been racking up wins en route to a 5-0 record, a UFC contract could soon become reality for the grappling wizard. And if that happens, Brazil might have to wait.
“My manager has had contact with the UFC – with several organizations, in fact”, Dern said. “So, yes, we’ve already had talks with the UFC, but there is nothing confirmed as far as a debut in the UFC yet. That’s all I can say about that.”
“I’m really looking forward to what’s going to happen in 2018. For now, I’m going to stay in the US because I don’t know what next year will bring. If I’ll end up with the UFC, then I’ll stay in the US, but I’ll come to Brazil whenever I can. My ultimate goal is to be UFC champion and to have that belt.”
To achieve that goal, Dern knows that even a world-class jiu-jitsu game won’t be enough in itself. That’s why the ADCC champion is trying to get experience on the feet, as well, which was on display in her recent fights, where Dern came out aggressive in the standup department.
“I think my game is maturing a lot”, Dern said. “In my first fight, I didn’t finish my opponent, and neither in my third fight. I’m trying to mix it up a lot, and I think I’m really growing a lot as an athlete and a fighter. I’m maturing, and my team is helping me a lot with that. I continue to train jiu-jitsu every day, same with standup. I think we’re on the right track. I feel that with every fight, I’m getting more confident, and that’s very important for an athlete and makes all the difference. So, if I continue like this, with confidence and an open mind, I think it’ll be all right.”