Fresh from making history in Las Vegas on Saturday night, UFC strawweight Mackenzie Dern says she wants to “become the mom champ” as the jiu-jitsu queen and new mother sets her sights on even greater targets.
Dern, 27, became the first woman in UFC history ever to win by leg submission when she defeated Hannah Cifers in the first round of their bout at the organization’s Apex facility at the weekend.
The victory saw Dern bounce back from the first defeat of her MMA career against Brazil’s Amanda Ribas last October – a bout which came just four months after Dern had given birth to her daughter, Moa.
After utilizing her ground game to perfection against the dangerous Cifers, Dern is back in the win column and also back on track to start climbing up the strawweight ranks – which currently have Chinese sensation Zhang Weili at their summit.
“What makes it good is that it was a leg lock, and the first in women’s history,” the Phoenix-born Dern told reporters in Las Vegas after she defeated Cifers.
“But I think once I get the mom’s belt and become mom champ, then that would be, ‘OK, now it’s a big difference.’”
The UFC has never had a mother claim gold in the promotion, although there are active moms in the ranks such as the popular Michelle ‘Karate Hottie’ Waterson.
Two-weight champion Amanda Nunes is also set to become a mother for the first time in September this year when partner and fellow fighter Nina Ansaroff gives birth to their baby daughter.
For former world Jiu-Jitus champ Dern – who is married to Brazilian professional surfer Wesley Santos – being a mother in MMA does not preclude success.
“I don’t know why people think being a mom is such a big thing [in MMA], said Dern, who now stands 8-1 in pro MMA, having made the switch to the cage as recently as 2016.
“The biggest thing is just our routine, you know, it’s hard with a daughter. It’s a mental thing more than being an athlete.”
After her headline-grabbing performance on Saturday – which also netted her a tidy $50,000 Performance of the Night Bonus – Dern will continue to juggle parental responsibilities with her assault on the 115lbs ranks.
But don’t expect her to be deterred in the slightest by the prospect.