UFC 256: Mackenzie Dern Looking to Fight Top Contenders Moving Forward

BJJ standout Mackenzie Dern will look to make it three wins in a row at UFC 256.

Since what at the time was seen as something of an upset loss to Amanda Ribas just over a year ago, strawweight Dern (9-1) has bounced back nicely. Saturday, she goes up against Brazilian Virna Jandiroba, who like Dern has shown some skill on the ground.

No, she doesn’t have Dern’s accolades. Few do. But it’s an interesting stylistic match-up. And a question that Dern has apparently fielded a lot of late.

“It’s funny because I think everyone’s trying to find this big, big difference in the grappling,” she said during a UFC 256 media day this week. Giving her thoughts on Jandiroba’s ground skills to Cageside Press, Dern added that “I think her grappling is a lot like, kind of pressure and passing and things like that. And people see me doing like these crazy leg locks and arm bars and kind of a little bit more elusive and stuff like that. But, man, I’m a complete fighter.”

After having to fight at the Absolute division pretty much her entire jiu-jitsu career, “I really think I’m a more complete fighter.” That includes everything from what Jandiroba does, to a looser game with heel hooks and the like. “I really think the biggest difference is her [jiu-jitsu] is maybe a little bit more one dimensional. That is effective, it’s really effective, especially when you have ground n’ pound and stuff like that, but I think people don’t realize that I know that style, too.”

Even if she has her hand raised at UFC 256 this weekend, Dern won’t be targeting any specific names moving forward. “No name in particular.  A lot of things are gonna change in 2021 in between the top 10,” she predicted. “I think a lot of the girls are gonna fight. So I don’t really want to say a name now and then it changes, maybe a certain girl with number five then goes to seven or something like that.”

That said, the submission expert added that “definitely in 2021” she plans to take fights that get her “one step closer to the belt,” rather than “just fight anyone any time for anything.” The plan, continued Dern, is to show that she’s at the level to be champion. So she’s looking to prove herself, “and I think the best way to prove that is by fighting the top contenders.”

Watch the full UFC 256 virtual media day pres scrum with Mackenzie Dern above. The event takes place this Saturday, December 12 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.