Mackenzie Dern relieved to air personal issues ahead of UFC Fight Night 224: ‘It was good for me to just let it out there’
LAS VEGAS – UFC strawweight contender Mackenzie Dern didn’t intend to have her personal issues at the forefront of fight week, but is glad everything came to light.
Ahead of her UFC Fight Night 224 main event bout against Angela Hill at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Dern (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) detailed a tumultuous fight camp that included a number of personal hurdles such as changing managers and going through a divorce.
“I didn’t come here with the intention to say like, ‘Oh yeah, all my problems that I’m going through,'” Dern told reporters at the post-fight news conference. “But it was good for me to just let it out there and for people to see we go through things like this. Divorce, child support, all these things, you know? Managers and people wanting all these things from you. It’s like since I’ve been into the MMA world, I’ve always had people wanting to pull me in all these different directions, and I’m learning the sport too. I come from jiu-jitsu, I don’t come from MMA, so I’m learning so much. I didn’t really have a path, you know?
So now, to be able to let everyone know you’re going through this, but I’m still here and I had a great performance, I think – and yeah, it didn’t stop me. We can’t let people stop us from going after our dreams.”
A great performance, indeed. Despite all of the family problems and professional changes, Dern still had to find a way to stay focused on the task of defeating Hill (15-13 MMA, 10-13 UFC). Not only did Dern get the job done by winning a dominant unanimous decision in her third UFC main event, she perhaps looked better than ever.
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Dern’s changes came after a majority decision loss to Yan Xiaonan in October. It was her second fight of 2022, which halted the momentum of a split decision win over Teica Torres last April. While Dern is focused on challenging former champion Rose Namajunas, she wouldn’t mind running it back with Xiaonan.
“I would like a rematch with Yan,” Dern said. “I think she had a great performance with Jessica (Andrade). I think it was a really close fight. So, I would like to get a rematch with her if Rose wasn’t available, or even Jessica Andrade, who’s a former champion too. Definitely someone ahead of me.”
For now, Dern is happy to get back on track with an impressive win in a main event Fight of the Night battle. She was able to display physical and strategic improvements through the course of the fight. However, overcoming the personal challenges that people couldn’t see made this win special for Dern.
“People see us like we’re super heroes and all we do is fight and train all day and we’re mean, but no,” Dern said. “We go through things all the time. We’re regular people. We just fight for a living.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 224.