Former UFC bantamweight champion ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey is set to make her anticipated return to the octagon on December 30 at UFC 207. Rousey hasn’t competed since losing her title back in November when she was knocked out by Holly Holm. And while all eyes will likely be on her when she looks to reclaim her title from current champ Amanda Nunes, there’s someone else who deserves our attention; someone currently standing off in the shadows, someone who has the potential of blowing up into a superstar unlike anyone else before her, including Rousey. Her name is Mackenzie Dern.
Similarly to Rousey, Dern comes from a background in grappling. Unlike the UFC star, who brings an impressive Judo background into the octagon with her, Dern has spent her life training and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). The-23 year-old is widely considered to be the number one female black belt in all Jiu-Jitsu. To put it frankly, you’re probably not going to find a female more skilled then her on the ground. It would take a whole separate article just to go through all the accolades, medals and championships she’s won in the sport. Just take my word (or don’t and just Google her) – she’s legit.
Getting ready for photoshoot when I was cover of @jiujitsumag !! I can’t believe it’s been one year already! Thank you God for all the opportunities in my life! Hope everyone has a great Friday! Repórter by the great @patjflores !! _______________________________________________ Me preparando para um ensaio fotográfico quando fui capa da @jiujitsumag !! Mal acredito que já se passou um ano! Obrigada Deus por todas oportunidades que aparecem na minha vida! Boa sexta feira para todos! ?—> @patjflores
So why is this 23-year-old Jiu-Jitsu phenom the next big thing in MMA? Because she has the full package, that’s why.
Look, predictions are worthless. They’re basically smarter sounding guesses. I’m not here to say that Dern is going to go undefeated and take over the game in the next few years. What I am saying is that there’s a very good chance that she could.
Dern is currently 2-0 in MMA, with both of her fights taking place in the Legacy Fighting Championship promotion. In her MMA debut, she went the distance and defeated Kenia Rosas via unanimous decision. Then, in her most recent fight back on Oct. 14, she pulled off what many are calling the submission of the year.
Like Rousey who transitioned into the sport with little to no striking experience, Dern is also looking to add some stand up skills to her already near perfect ground game. But really, I think it’s safe to say no matter who she gets matched up against, if the fight hits the mat at any point it’s likely game over.
And while in 2016 it would be nice to say that things like looks and appearance don’t matter, especially in something like combat sports, to say so wouldn’t be completely honest. It’s not a secret that female and male fighters often draw more crowds and fans when they have that ‘look’ and the promotion decides it’s easy to market them. Yes, even in a sport where people are getting punched and kicked in the face, it seems to pay to have a nice looking one.
Dern, who fights in the strawweight division (115 pounds), has the looks, the talent and the mindset to make it big in the sport. And while Rousey tends to play the confident teetering on cocky role, Dern brings a more soft spoken and humble side to the sport, which is sure to resonate with a large group of fans.
Only time will truly tell if Mackenzie Dern will be MMA’s next big thing, but man does it seem like it’s heading in that direction.