For the first 13 minutes of her UFC debut, the heavily hyped Mackenzie Dern showed she still has plenty of room for development.
But over the final two minutes, Dern displayed why so many are high on her future.
The world-class jiu-jitsu player used her skills over the latter half of the flnal round to seal a tight strawweight fight against Asley Yoder on Saturday night in the featured prelim bout of UFC 222.
Dern improved to 6-0 with a split-decision victory, getting the right end of two out of three 29-28s scores at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“I know what they say about the UFC jitters, but I didn’t feel that at all,” Dern said. “Everything felt good.”
Dern came out at a fast clip at the bout’s outset, winging looping punches that sometimes hit, and hard, but just as often missed. Dern was able to close the distance and cllnch Yoder, but wasn’t able to take her to the mat.
Yoder, a TUF 23 vet, made solid adjustments in the second round, as she landed sharp counters, scored a knockdown, and generally beat Dern to the punch.
The third round and the fight itself hung in the balance until the final two minutes, when Dern finally scored a takedown. She swiftly got Yoder’s back and while it was to Yoder’s credit that she got to the horn, Dern’s actions were enough to seal the decision.
“[I’m] so happy to be here, Ashley was such a tough opponent,” said Dern, an MMA Lab competior. “I was glad to get the win, she’s a great fighter.”
it was the third decision win of Dern’s career. Yoder, a Team Quest fighter, dropped to 5-4. She’s 0-3 in the UFC, with all three fights going the distance.