Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight prospects Mackenzie Dern and Amanda Cooper squared off last night (May 12, 2018) at UFC 224 from inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Heading into the bout, it was hard to get a read on Dern. In her debut, she definitely looked very raw, but she’s young enough in her career that development will happen quickly with some hard work. Then, she missed weight terribly and has reportedly been kicked out of her mixed martial arts (MMA) gym, which lowered expectations considerably.
Despite all of Dern’s nonsense, Cooper was a pretty significant underdog. “ABC” was a superior fighter in all areas but Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but avoiding the decorated grappling champion’s vaunted ground game was a considerable task that Cooper simply had to accomplish to see her hand raised.
Cooper circled at first and seemed a bit hesitant on account of her foe’s size and grappling, but it didn’t take long for Cooper to advance behind combinations. Dern fired her looping overhand in return, and while the first few missed, a brutal one landed fully. Cooper was knocked out briefly, and Cooper climbed into mount as Cooper regained consciousness. Cooper was still in a world of hurt, resulting in a quick rear naked choke submission from the jiu-jitsu ace.
Last time out, Dern showcased sloppy kickboxing with a mean right hand. It wasn’t technically beautiful, but overhand right featured a step into Southpaw and thus had the full force of Dern’s weight behind it, and it connected perfectly. Had Dern simply walked away, it very possible could’ve been a one-shot knockout.
If it weren’t for Dern’s awful weight cutting, this would be a huge moment for the decorated grappler. Dern dropped a solid boxer with a brutal punch, and that should be a promising sign for her future. As is, the narrative is that she fought a visibly smaller opponent and beat her up. On the bright side, both Dern’s Portuguese and English sounded pretty good in the post-fight interview.
As for Cooper, she fought aggressively, and there are risks associated with that approach. Cooper clearly had very little respect for Dern’s technical striking, and that’s reasonable, BUT it was clear immediately that Dern was trying to blast Cooper with every punch. A bigger foe throwing heat is dangerous no matter the level of skill, but Cooper did not pay her punches any respect.
She paid the price. It’s unfortunate, as the odds were stacked heavily against her given the size disadvantage and jiu-jitsu edge, but this was really a kickboxing mistake more than anything else.
Last night, Mackenzie Dern continued her winning ways with a quick submission. How high is Dern’s ceiling?
For complete UFC 224: “Nunes vs. Pennington” results and play-by-play, click HERE!