PHOENIX — Mackenzie Dern has some pop, too.
Dern (4-0), a jiu-jitsu champion who is considered one of the top prospects in women’s MMA, stayed unbeaten Friday night at LFA 24, flooring flyweight veteran Mandy Polk (3-4) with punches before tapping Polk out with a nasty first-round rear-naked choke.
The performance marked Dern’s debut in the flyweight division, and needless to say, it was a successful one. Despite being known for her mat wizardry, Dern came out swinging, throwing hard hooks at Polk before diving low on a single-leg attempt. Polk defended several takedowns and trips, but ultimately she found her way to the floor anyway, eating a salvo of looping shots before being downed by the right hand that signaled the beginning of the end.
Smelling blood, Dern immediately lunged onto her hurt opponent and coaxed a quick tapout at 2:55 of the opening round, preserving her unbeaten record.
At just 24 years old, with the credentials of being one of the greatest female jiu-jitsu practitioners of her era, Dern continues to be one of the most promising up-and-comers in the women’s divisions. After struggling to make the 115-pound limit in her past two MMA contests, she may have found a new home at 125 pounds as well.
A right head kick did the damage for Millender, who extended his winning streak to five straight and afterward called for UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby to bring him aboard.
The night’s co-main event saw Vinicius Zani (11-4) claim a hard-fought unanimous decision over hometown bantamweight Joey Miolla (9-3). Two judges scored the contest 29-28, while one saw it 30-27, all in favor of Zani.
A 29-year-old fighting out of Brazil, Zani has now won eight of his past nine bouts, with the only blemish on that run coming courtesy of a fourth-round knockout loss to Thomas Almeida back in 2014.