One of the most anticipated fights on the UFC 222 card over the weekend in Las Vegas was the Octagon debut of multiple time ADCC and Mundial champion Mackenzie Dern. It was evident in the numbers that her fight had put up, drawing in more than one million viewers.
For her part, however, Dern says she felt no pressure at all coming into her much-awaited UFC debut against Ashley Yoder.
“I swear, it felt so normal. I was so relaxed. I didn’t even hear people [screaming],” Dern said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting). “I felt Bruce (Buffer) was talking to me when he was saying my name, but I was just looking at Ashley, trying to focus on what I wanted to do. I felt like I was meant to be there. Didn’t feel any nervous at all, like UFC jitters. It felt great to be there.”
Dern was not able to showcase her elite grappling skills that much against Yoder, since the fight remained predominantly on the feet. But during the final minutes of the third-round when she was able to secure back control and threaten a rear-naked choke submission, Dern genuinely felt she would have finished the fight, even if Yoder had her chin down and was defending well.
“A lot of people tell me about that, ‘oh, it’s on the chin.’ From all the chokes I do, we have the air choke and we have the blood choke,” Dern explained. “The air choke is what they defend it putting the chin down. My fight with Mandy Polk at 125, she had her chin down, but with Ashley I could feel I was squeezing on the side, so I felt that she was breathing but I was feeling more that she would pass out than be out of breath, to cut the blood and they fall asleep, you know?”
“There are two different types of chokes, one that people can’t breathe and the ones that they don’t feel it and they pass out. It was really tight; I was squeezing more on the side. But she was able to release the pressure. But it was a good fight.”
Dern has so far been able to keep an undefeated MMA record of 6-0, with three wins by stoppage.