UFC Vegas 73: Hill Looks to Use Veteran Savvy to Shock Skillful Dern

Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill, UFC Vegas 73
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 19: (L-R) Opponents Mackenzie Dern and Angela Hill face off during the UFC weigh-in at Santa Fe Station Hotel and Casino on May 19, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

A battle between veteran strawweights will headline the UFC Apex as jiu-jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern looks to hold her ranking against Angela Hill at UFC Vegas 73.

They say expectation can be the thief of joy, and perhaps that is a little true for fan-favorite Mackenzie Dern.  The personable Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu got her professional MMA career off to a hot start as she went 7-0 with appearances in Invicta and LFA before showcasing her lauded submission game inside the Octagon.  As has been well-chronicled, motherhood came soon afterward and a setback in her return preceded another strong four fight win-streak that put her into the upper-echelon of the strawweight division.  After being praised as having the potential to be “the next Ronda Rousey,” the 28 year-old Dern appeared to be on the cusp of fulfilling the promise shown from the beginning of her career.

A setback against fellow top-contender Marina Rodriguez dumped the proverbial bucket of cold water on her hot streak.  She would then split her next two fights, to Tecia Torres and Yan Xiaonan respectively, and now enters the fight amidst an admitted level of upheaval.  Aside from the changes in her personal life, Dern also underwent a change in managers and was without her head coach Jason Parillo for part of this training camp.  But while she enters Saturday’s bout looking to get back into the win-column, the fact that the UFC chose to upgrade her to the main event after she was previously scheduled to compete on another card shows the faith the promotion still has in her ability to deliver in spectacular fashion.

On the other side of the Octagon, one of the promotion’s most unshakeable veterans will be looking for the biggest victory of her professional career.  Angela Hill is one of the fighters whose reputation of taking on anyone, anywhere, anytime has made her one of the UFC’s most reliable competitors.  “Overkill” has fought the large part of her professional career as part of the roster and once almost tied the record for most fights in the calendar year (COVID-19 removed her from the scheduled record tying bout).  Along the way, Hill’s willingness to always get into exciting bouts has made her a long tenured veteran of the Octagon.

Entering the bout, Hill will be looking to maximize a golden opportunity.  Whereas her only prior UFC main event was on short notice, her bout with Dern comes with a full camp.  She also goes into the bout with back-to-back wins in her most recent fights while potentially catching Dern at a time when she may be in a skid as she’s 1-2 in her last three.  After more than twenty fights in the promotion, it would be the biggest victory of Hill’s career to take out a contender who recently was likely on the cusp of fighting for the title herself.

While a leap into title contention is unlikely for the winner, they would place themselves in prime position for their next bout.  A fight with Rose Namajunas could be a possibility should the former champion make her return, as does the loser of the upcoming bout between champion Zhang Weili and Amanda Lemos.  The possibility of stepping into another bout should someone get injured between the upcoming fight between Virna Jandiroba and Tatiana Suarez is also an option.