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Mackenzie Dern on loss at UFC Vegas 61: ‘I didn’t do what I came to do’

An emotional Dern apologized for her performance against Xiaonan on Saturday. 

Mackenzie Dern was disappointed in her performance against Yan Xiaonan at UFC Vegas 61 this past Saturday.

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace left the Octagon with a majority decision loss, which saw her drop to 1-2 in her past three outings. Though she found success on the ground, Dern could not submit Xiaonan, who showed off an improved defense to avoid all of her attempts.

Speaking to Megan Olivi on the ESPN+ post-fight show, Dern expressed her frustration with not getting a finish, despite being in prime position to do so.

“I didn’t do what I came to do,” said Dern. “My goal was, if I got it to the ground, I should be finishing it. I have the best jiu-jitsu, I believe, in the women’s division, so I had lots of opportunities to finish and she was just the better fighter than me. I just feel like I’ve been getting so [much] better and it’s hard to not be able to show it in the fight.

“I have so much to grow and it’s all part of the journey and I just thank Dana [White], the UFC, my team, the [Mark] Zuckerberg family for being here and making this such a great event,” continued Dern. “I’m sorry if I made anyone sad with my performance. I know so many people believed in me and I believed in myself, but it’s part of the game.”

Like in her performances against Tecia Torres and Marina Rodriguez, Dern admitted she should have turned up the aggression on Xiaonan when she had her in those submissions. She hopes to work on that before returning for her next appearance.

“I knew that I was going to have to break her arm or put her to sleep,” said Dern. “She’s tough. That’s what I was saying the whole time coming in here — she’s a tough girl. I knew she wasn’t going to tap easily and then standing, she hits hard. The first couple punches — I was like, ‘This is going to be a dog fight.’ I knew it was going to be a dog fight but I really, really thought I was going to submit her.

“I’m not surprised with her defense,” continued Dern. “I don’t feel like her defense was the best defense, but I think that she’s tough so she’s hanging in there. That’s what I saw from Tecia, that’s what I saw from Marina, that’s what it is. The best of the best, they’re not going to tap for anything, so I just got to keep working on my game. Get my jiu-jitsu on point, be aggressive 100 percent of the time and get my striking better.”