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Mackenzie Dern Believes Strawweight Title Shot Could Be Within Reach By Year’s End

Tackling the returning Nina Nunes at UFC Vegas 23, grappling ace, Dern believes a title siege is possible by the end of 2021.

Mandatory Credit: MMA Fighting

Making her Octagon return this weekend in tandem with the #5 ranked strawweight contender, Nina Nunes — surging Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, Mackenzie Dern believes a shot at undisputed 115-pounds spoils could await her by the end of 2021. 

Sitting at #11 in the official strawweight pile, Dern has the opportunity to possibly crack the division’s top-five with a victory over Nunes, who makes her return to the Octagon for the first time since UFC 238 back in June of 2019 — where she dropped a unanimous decision loss to the undefeated, Tatiana Suarez. 


In the time spent away from the Octagon, Nunes, along with her partner, current two-weight champion, Amanda Nunes welcomed their first child, Raegan Ann Nunes. 

The victor of three on the trot, RVCA and Jason Parillo trainee, Dern has embarked on a splendid run of form recently, scoring a unanimous decision victory over fellow grappling standout, former Invicta FC strawweight champion, Virna Jandiroba — suffering a broken nose during their UFC 256 clash last December.

On the cusp of contention at 115-pounds, the Arizona-born grappler is planning an active 2021 like the annum prior, and has sights set on a challenge to strawweight gold by the end of this year.

Yeah, I think so, for sure,” Dern said when asked by MMA Junkie reporter John Morgan if a title challenge could be in reach by the end of the year at a media scrum ahead of UFC Vegas 23. “Like I said, it all depends on what happens on this fight (with Nunes). I think this fight is going to be a big determining factor in my career. So hopefully winning and winning really good with hopefully set me up for, you know — what could come next, they (the UFC) have Rose (Namajunas), Carla Esparza, Yan Xiaonan, and Zhang Weili. They’re all fighting in the next two weeks,” Dern explained. “So a lot of things are going to happen in the top-five.

Whilst a victory over Nunes would likely catapult the 28-year-old into the top-five of the division, Dern is in no rush to push for a title challenge, explaining how she’s eager to score at least one, if not two more fights beyond this weekend’s outing first.

I would like to have maybe one or two more fights (before a title shot),” Dern said.”Really, my coaches, they decide when I’m ready — really Jiu-Jitsu-wise, I can beat any of them, you know. The champion, all the way to the newbies in the UFC. The ground game; I can win — but we wanna be champion, and champion — you need to be good at everything and preparing for anything and be able to mix in and melt everything together.

I think if I can get (over) my anxiousness in the fights, to calm down a little bit — I think a lot of people notice that maybe if I hit a good punch, I kinda go forward a little bit, then the person’s like recovering and breathing and then I lose the good opportunity,” Dern said.

In the midst of a three-fight winning-spree, Dern added the above-mentioned, Jandiroba to an armbar victory over Randa Markos, and a quickfire kneebar win over Hannah Cifers last September and May, respectively. The armbar stoppage of Markos came as Dern’s sixth submission success from ten professional wins.

A whopping eight-time gold medalist in World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships, Dern, the daughter of renowned grappler, Megaton Dias has scored three World Cup wins, an ADCC World Championship, and two World Jiu-Jitsu Championships to name a few.

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