Mackenzie Dern jigged for joy in the Octagon after overcoming a suspected broken nose to earn a gutsy decision win against Virna Jandiroba at UFC 256 and continue her rise in the strawweight fold.
With neither Dern nor Brazilian rival Jandiroba having a knockout win to their names in their entire professional careers, many had expected the contest between the pair to be decided on the mat – where they had earned 19 of their 25 combined victories.
Instead, what unfolded at the UFC Apex was a stand-up scrap across three rounds which Dern ultimately shaded 29-28 on all three scorecards.
Dern did not emerge unscathed, taking a knee shot from Jandiroba in the second round which left her bleeding from a cut at the top of her nose – which Dern would later say was possibly broken in the blow.
The 27-year-old BJJ queen battled through the third round to win an entertaining scrap, which moved her winning streak to three after suffering her first UFC and career defeat to Amanda Ribas in October of 2019.
Flying high! @MackenzieDern 2.0 continues her 115 run 👏 #UFC256pic.twitter.com/ufMaWOwMRs
“It’s hurting a little bit, I think maybe it’s broken, but the win is better,” Dern told the media after her victory, still dabbing the blood from the nasty cut at the top of her nose.
“I never actually got a lot of blood in a fight before. When I got it, it didn’t hurt too bad, I just heard the sound.
“But when I saw a lot of blood I thought it was a cut, I was praying it was a cut… I asked my coach, ‘Is it broken?’ and he said, ‘Oh no, no, it’s just a cut.’ But I know my coach, so I thought, ‘It’s probably broken.’”
Closed strong!🇧🇷@MackenzieDern throws down for the UD at #UFC256. pic.twitter.com/oMl9njaRGE
“I thought it was two [rounds] for me and one for her. I felt like, man, I broke my nose and I tried to come back in the third round so I hope they give it to me.
“I really enjoyed getting this experience of having three rounds of standup, and showing people that, hey, if my jiu-jitsu doesn’t work, I can stand up too.”
Dern has been hotly tipped for greatness since joining the UFC as an unbeaten MMA fighter and two-time World Jiu-Jitsu Championship gold medalist.
She won her first two fights under the UFC banner before suffering defeat to Ribas in what was her comeback fight after a hiatus for maternity leave.
She’s now firmly back on track, having record three wins on the spin against Hannah Cifers, Randa Marko and Jandiroba.
“I just want to focus on me and have my goal and try to be a legend,” said Dern, who has proclaimed her desire to be known as the UFC’s ‘Mom Champ’, should she ascend to the top of the 115lbs division currently ruled by China’s Zhang Weili.