Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight talents Mackenzie Dern and Tecia Torres will go to war this weekend (Sat., April 9, 2022) at UFC 273 inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Since returning to action following her first defeat (and first child) in 2019, Dern has been a far better athlete. She’s in better shape and performing at a higher level, which resulted in an introduction to the Top 10, though her momentum was halted by Marina Rodriguez last time out. Meanwhile, Torres is in the midst of a resurgence. A four-fight losing streak from 2018-2019 seemed to indicate that “Tiny Tornado” was seriously losing steam, but she’s since rebounded with a quality three-fight win streak to climb back up the ladder.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Nina Nunes (UFC Vegas 23), Virna Jandiroba (UFC 256), Randa Markos (UFC Vegas 11), Ashley Yoder (UFC 222)
Key Losses: Marina Rodriguez (UFC Vegas 39), Amanda Ribas (UFC Fight Night 161)
Keys to Victory: Dern is a genuine submission master. Often, we over-exaggerate grappler’s accomplishments in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world, but Dern actually transitioned to mixed martial arts (MMA) while one of the very best jiu-jitsu artists in the world. While her wrestling and kickboxing remain inconsistent, those skills are generally moving in the correct direction.
Against anyone on the roster, Dern is a serious finishing threat the second she’s able to gain top position. Quite simply, she is levels above her opponents on the canvas, and it’s usually immediately obvious. Dern didn’t find many moments to take down Rodriguez, but any time she did find her way to top position, Rodriguez was instantly in survival mode.
Opposite Torres, that dynamic remains in play. Torres is the better striker and more consistent wrestler, but if Dern manages to force a scramble, she’s in control. Ideally, Dern will be able to land a conventional takedown — say, a double-leg along the fence or nice single-leg trip — and it will be smooth sailing from there.
If Torres’ defensive wrestling proves problematic, it’s time to get creative. Dern should be looking to catch kicks, fall back into leg locks, duck a punch and jump the back ... any of the sneaky ways a grappler can force the fight into her world.
Key Wins: Rose Namajunas (Invicta FC 6), Angela Hill (UFC 265), Michelle Waterson (UFC 218), Paige VanZant (Invicta FC 4), Felice Herrig (Invicta FC 7)
Key Losses: Rose Namajunas (UFC on FOX 19), Zhang Weili (UFC 235), Jessica Andrade (UFC on FOX 28), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC on FOX 30)
Keys to Victory: Torres has a very complete MMA game that makes the most of her attributes. “Tiny Tornado” is a highly accurate moniker, as Torres overcomes the typical size/reach disadvantage with punches in bunches, and she’s become a more and more effective offensive wrestler in recent years.
One of the most important keys for Torres here is to stay smart. Several opponents of Dern have denied a takedown, then taken the bait in following her to the mat, and well ... it doesn’t end well! Torres is a competent grappler, but there’s absolutely no reason for her to engage with Dern on the canvas.
Sprawl-and-brawl is the strategy. Torres should keep her feet moving to make Dern’s takedown setups difficult, then pick and choose her moments to explode into combinations. Punching to the body first then going upstairs would be really smart also, and body shots are an excellent layer of defense to takedowns.
This is a very important Strawweight contest.
Dern enters this bout ranked at No. 5, forced to defend that slot against a foe a couple positions behind her. Though her overall game is still rough around the edges, Dern is such a masterful grappler that she’s an intriguing threat to just about anyone in the division. If she can return to the win column, Dern isn’t that far off from a title shot, and she’d be an interesting match up for Rose Namajunas or Carla Esparza.
On the other hand, Torres has done really well to rebound from her rough patch, but she hasn’t yet returned to the point where she’s looked at as a potential title threat. Beating Angela Hill is a nice feather in her cap, but Torres still needs a big name victory that proves she’s an elite contender. Dern could be just that win, the push that breaks her into the Top 5 and could even set up a title eliminator.
At UFC 273, Mackenzie Dern and Tecia Torres will duel. Which woman will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 273 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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