Mackenzie Dern is quickly making a name for herself outside of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The 23-year-old grappling prodigy is undefeated in her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career (2-0) and already has her eyes set on the Octagon in 2017. But unlike many female fighters who have traversed the UFC road before her, Dern is not looking to follow in the footsteps of women’s MMA trailblazer Ronda Rousey. In fact, the jiu-jitsu goddess never really took a liking to the former UFC champion.
“I definitely didn’t look up to Ronda," said Dern in a recent interview with Sherdog. "Maybe it was just the personality part of it. I just never really connected with that type of personality. I’ve never met her in person, so I really don’t know how she is. She definitely opened the doors for women. When I saw everything that she was able to accomplish with her skills and everything else, it made me think that I could do this.
“I never looked at her as an inspiration. I want to be bigger than her. I want to be the best Mackenzie. I think I have a different image and I can be a different kind of role model. I have a different style to her, and I want to take that as far as possible.”
Dern, who is a black belt possessing a ton of world championships, recently said she doesn’t want to make the same mistakes as Rousey, so this added outlook is just icing on the cake. After all, Rousey’s fall from grace is a cautionary tale for an aspiring fighter, let alone a grappling defector.
While many female fighters dedicate their come-up to the likes of Rousey, Dern seems to be taking a unique road to stardom. She is still extremely young and very green to the sport of MMA, but her combination of skill, confidence and good looks should quickly catapult her into the UFC spotlight sooner rather than later.