It seems pregnancy and motherhood have helped Mackenzie Dern as a fighter in more ways than she could have anticipated. Just a couple of days away from her Octagon return – after giving birth her daughter, Moa, back in June – the Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt tells Ag Fight that breastfeeding has helped her maintain weight ahead of her fight against Amanda Ribas at UFC Tampa.
After badly missing weight in her last fight – where she came in at 123 lbs to meet Amanda Cooper in May 2018 – and only four months after giving birth, Dern shared the experience of raising a newborn baby while training for an UFC fight. Unsurprisingly, the process has had its ups and downs.
“I give her some powdered milk to help, because you lose some nutrients while dieting. But I’ve been breastfeeding normally, and that helps me to stay slimmer. Your weight comes off and it helps a lot. Sometimes a kick to the breast can hurt, or during a grappling session, but I’m used to it now. I don’t even feel the pain anymore. My body is reacting quite well. My weight is doing great, I’m at 116.8, and the limit is 116, so I’m not even struggling when it comes to weight cutting.”
The daughter of decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitor Wellington Dias, and a world champion at ADCC and no gi competitions, Dern is now expected to take on fellow grappler and judoka Amanda Ribas—who has three submission wins in her seven professional MMA victories so far. It’s a record that has impressed Mackenzie, although she doesn’t think her opponent will try to hit the ground against someone as seasoned on the floor as herself.
“It sure is (my biggest challenge yet). She’s the toughest girl I’ve ever been matched up with so far. She scored a submission in her UFC debut, so she’s no fool on the ground. I think it’ll get complicated. When they go up against me, many try to avoid the ground, so that makes my strategy easier. But I think she believes in her jiu-jitsu and her striking.”
“She’s a judoka, she has good takedowns. I don’t know if she will try to take me down and keep the position or just score points.” Mackenzie continued. “I don’t think she’ll risk herself by staying on the mat, because she knows I have 23 years of jiu-jitsu practice, competing at the highest level. But you never know, I’ve been away for ten months, so she might try. She might think my timing on the ground is off. We’ll see.”
Still undefeated in her MMA career, Mackenzie Dern (7-0) scored a split decision win over Ashley Yoder in her Octagon debut, back in March. She followed that up with a rear-naked choke victory over Amanda Cooper in May of the same year.
Now, the 26-year-old is expected to take on Amanda Ribas at UFC Fight Night 161, in Tampa, Florida, on October 12. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a female strawweight bout between former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and contender Michelle Waterson.