ADCC and IBJJF world champion, Mackenzie Dern, crossed over from Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition to mixed martial arts (MMA) to become an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion. And while she hit another setback last night (Sat., Oct. 1, 2022) against Yan Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 61, she insists she’ll reach her goal.
Dern suffered her second loss in three fights at a mostly-empty UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her main event bout against Yan was a close back-and-forth affair, but Yan managed to keep the fight standing for long enough to both avoid getting tapped and squeak by with a decision win (watch highlights here).
How close was it? Judge Michael Bell ruled the fight a 47-47 draw off the strength of Dern’s dominating fifth round. Sal D’Amato and Junichiro Kamijo had it 48-47 Xiaonan. All three gave Xiaonon the first, third and fourth rounds, where the Chinese fighter was able to keep the fight largely off the ground.
Following the fight, an emotional — but determined — Dern releases a statement about the loss via social media.
“Hey guys. So, I’m gonna say this in both English and Portuguese,” Dern started. “But I just want to say thank you to everyone who cheer for me, you know? I messed up and ... Yan did so good, she’s tough, she’s really tough, you guys. But yeah, thank you.”
“This is just ... I’m learning. I’m learning on the spot. I’m going to be a champion. I’m gonna be a champion one day, I just gotta learn. But, I tried my best and, you know, I really tried. I just gotta get better. But thank you guys so much. So yeah, thank you. I appreciate it.
“Congrats to Yan and her team,” she concluded. “Thank you guys for all your support. I’ll be back. I’ll be back stronger.”
There was no post-fight press conference on account of there being no press in attendance. UFC made the unusual decision to clear the APEX of fans, media and even fighter family members to allow Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg and a few of his friends to enjoy the fights alone.
But, we did get this interview from Megan Olivi backstage following the loss:
“She hits really hard,” Dern told Olivi. “So the first couple of punches, my eyes kinda went psshhh so I was like, ‘Okay, we got a dog fight.’ I knew it was gonna be a dog fight, but I really really thought I was going to submit her.
“I’m not surprised at her defense,” she continued. “I don’t feel her defense was like the best defense, but she’s tough, you know, hanging in there. That’s what I saw from Tecia [Torres], that’s what I was from Marina [Rodriguez], so that’s what it is. The best of the best, they’re not gonna tap to anything so I just got to keep working on my game, get my jiu jitsu on point, be aggressive 100 percent of the time and get my striking better.”
The loss drops Dern to 12-3 (7-3 UFC) and will probably result in No. 5 Dern and No. 6 Yan swapping spots in the women’s Strawweight rankings.
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