Dern, who extended her win streak to 3-0 at LFA 50 on Friday, beating Katherine Roy via unanimous decision in her third professional MMA fight, told MMA Fighting that she wants to follow in the Irishman's footsteps.
"I’ll try to follow (Conor) McGregor’s footsteps,” Dern said in a recent interview. "The best in the world always have goals to achieve."
"I think that if the UFC has a 125-pound division, I’d like to fight in that division too, see if I feel good there,” she continued. "But I think that my height is for 115. But I need to get used to keeping my weight closer to 115. My body is different than the other strawweights."
The UFC currently has three weight classes for women: strawweight, bantamweight, and featherweight but the promotion could look to add a flyweight (125 lbs.) division in the future.
McGregor, the UFC's biggest star, became the promotion's first ever simultaneous two-division champion when he dethroned lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. 'The Notorious' had previously captured the featherweight title when he knocked out Jose Aldo at UFC 194.
Dern, who looked very green in her fight against Roy, has a ways to go before catching up to McGregor but the multiple-time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion believes she is destined to be a UFC Hall of Famer.
"I never wanted to be just another one in jiu-jitsu,” Dern said. "Maybe there is someone in jiu-jitsu with more titles than me, but I try to be someone with a different style. I want to be remembered. We stop competing one day and all this hard work can’t be forgotten. I’m not saying that being the champion is easy, it’s actually pretty hard, but I want to be remembered and become a Hall of Famer in MMA as well.”
At just 23, Dern already has her future mapped out and plans to retire from MMA within five or six years.
"I don’t think about fighting MMA for many years,” she said. "I don’t feel like doing like Miesha Tate, who fought MMA for 15 years, getting punched in the face. I entered MMA in the right time. I’m young. I’ll never be able to leave jiu-jitsu. I feel that one day, when I conquer everything I want in MMA, jiu-jitsu will be there for me to come back and inspire the young generation. That’s why I made this transition to MMA now. It’s the right time. Do MMA for five or six years and I’ll be fine."
"If I can win two belts by 27, I’ll stop (fighting) earlier,” she continued. "I want to win the belt and defend it, but I wanna know the right time to stop fighting. The best in the world always set new goals, but we never know when is the right time to stop. We always want more. I wanna know when it’s time to stop. I’m really comfortable with my decision to go from jiu-jitsu to MMA now, and I hope to do the same in MMA as well.”
With Dern continuing to generate hype in the MMA sphere, it's likely only a matter of time before the BJJ phenom signs with the UFC.