UFC strawweight prospect Mackenzie Dern capped off a difficult fight week with a brilliant performance at UFC 224 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
Dern (7-0) submitted Amanda Bobby Cooper at 2:27 of the opening round with a rear-naked choke. The finish came after Dern dropped Cooper (3-4) with a powerful overhand right in the center of the Octagon.
The result came despite a whirlwind several months for Dern, who is considered one of the UFC’s best young talents. She made her successful UFC debut in March but was asked to leave her longtime team, MMA Lab, shortly after.
And during Friday’s official weigh-in, Dern missed weight by a whopping seven pounds for the 115-pound contest. She forfeited 30 percent of her purse as a result, and was classified a “disgrace” by her opponent, Cooper.
“My camp was very hard, not just leaving the team, but a lot of different things happened,” Dern admitted after the fight. “I try not to cry. I knew fighting in Brazil, if I were to win or lose, they would support me.”
Dern, 25, is a former standout in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She specifically asked to compete on the UFC’s Brazil event, even though it was a relatively quick turnaround from her promotional debut in March.
Although she’s known for her grappling, Dern has shown a willingness to let her hands go, particularly the overhand right. It caught Cooper flush on the chin early on, and she quickly took advantage of the knockdown with the submission.
She has now finished four of her seven MMA fights via submission.
“The last seven months I have fought four times, so for sure, I want to rest a little bit,” Dern said. “I will keep training in California and get my routine down. Who knows? In a couple months, maybe I will fight again.”