Jiu-jitsu star Mackenzie Dern made her mixed martial arts debut Friday night, and scored a dominant victory.
The multiple-time grappling champion took on fellow MMA newcomer Kenia Rosas at Legacy FC 58 in Lake Charles, La., and wasted no time in the striking area. Dern rushed for a takedown seconds into the first round, quickly getting Rosas’ back and working on a rear-naked choke. Rosas’ submission defense was on point, allowing her to survive the constant attacks from the jiu-jitsu wizard.
The pressure continued in the second and third rounds, with Dern having no trouble taking Rosas to the ground and quickly improving to the mount. The decorated black-belt landed hard shots from the mount in the second round, hurting Rosas, but couldn’t get the finish. In the end, Dern scored her first MMA win via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26 and 30-25).
"I could have went for the armbar and saw that her arm was really flexible," Dern said after the dominant win. "I went for the toehold. I figured if her arm was flexible, than her feet were flexible too. I obviously didn't want to go three rounds. I tried to practice my punching, but she defends very well. I was happy with my performance."
In the final moments of the bout, Dern locked an armbar that looked deep, but Rosas didn’t tap.
"I didn't hear a noise but it was backwards," said the strawweight prospect about Rosas' elbow during her post-fight interview. "She has some flexibility so that's maybe why they thought it was a good match-up. She punches really hard and I tried to punch hard too. I was glad I was able to take it to the ground all three rounds."