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Mackenzie Dern: Attention on accent ahead of UFC 222 is ‘flattering’

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The former multiple-time world BJJ champion is getting ready for her Octagon debut, but it’s come with some surprising attention toward things other than her fighting style.

No one questions Mackenzie Dern’s grappling bona fides. They do, however, question her ability to consistently make weight and her ever-changing accent.

Dern heads into this weekend’s UFC 222 with a perfect 5-0 record as a professional and looking to impress on the biggest stage in the sport when she makes her octagon debut against Ashley Yoder.

MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani caught up with Dern on Thursday as she was preparing to make the final weight cut for the fight. Having missed weight in two of her five pro fights, the concern was there for Dern to miss the 115-pound mark for her first UFC bout, something she addressed with Helwani.

“No concerns,” Dern said. “I have a great team with me. There are concerns, I can’t lie. Of course, 115 is always hard for me, it’s never easy. I’m more concerned about how I will recover. I don’t want to get my muscles so tired, you know? But concern about making the weight? No, no concern about making the weight. Just more, how am I going to do this without being as tired as possible?”

This afternoon, Dern hit the mark, coming in at an even 116 pounds. Though, we won’t know if she managed to do so without the fatigue she was concerned with until she steps through the cage door Saturday evening.

Despite her incredible past success at the highest levels of the grappling world, the potential remains for the dreaded “octagon jitters” to cause issues, even if the weight cut went smoothly.

To that point, Dern told Helwani she doesn’t wilt in the face of pressure, but instead becomes better for being in the stressful position.

“For sure it’s surreal, it just hasn’t hit me yet,” Dern said. “I feel like I see everything happening but I’m just thinking about the fight and the weight cut. I have the little things that keep my mind focused. Again, I think I’m someone who grows under pressure. All of this is just going to make me a better fighter. I don’t shy away from this stuff. This stuff is what’s going to make me perform as best as possible.”

Secondary to her fighting skills, the most common topic that seems to surface in discussions about Dern is her accent.

Despite being born and raised in Arizona, Dern has developed a strong Brazilian accent over the past few years. Something captured in this video:

For Dern, the focus on her accent is no big deal.

Instead, she said she finds the entire situation flattering.

“It’s so flattering, you know?” Dern said. “I haven’t seen the video and I won’t watch it. But I’ve been asked about it and I think it’s just flattering that they think about how I’m talking. You know, I think after my UFC fight they’ll pay more attention to my fighting. But they’re paying so much attention to this … it’s a compliment that they look at that. (People are starting to see) this is me and this is who I am. I think it will pass.”