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Virna Jandiroba: It would be something ‘incredible’ to submit Mackenzie Dern at UFC 256

Virna Jandiroba (right) and Mackenzie Dern will collide in the main card of UFC 256 in Las Vegas.
Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

More than a battle of decorated grapplers, Virna Jandiroba’s UFC 256 clash with Mackenzie Dern is a chance to prove a point — and make a name for herself — Saturday night in Las Vegas.

A former Invicta FC strawweight champion, “Carcara” has beaten some talented grapplers back in her jiu-jitsu days in Brazil, like future two-division UFC queen Amanda Nunes and perennial strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha, but Dern has achieved more in terms of titles on the mat with multiple IBJJF championships and one ADCC gold.

Jandiroba will wait until Saturday “to see if she’s the best grappler I’ve ever faced in MMA,” but knows how big it would be to be the first to finish her in MMA.

“Submitting her would be a great feat, for sure,” Jandiroba said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “She’s a great jiu-jitsu name worldwide (so) it would be something incredible. A white-belt can be submitted, a black-belt can be submitted, because there are several aspects to handle [in MMA]. We both can be submitted, no one’s immune to submissions in MMA.”

Jandiroba is coming off back-to-back tapouts over Mallory Martin and Felice Herrig in the octagon, while Dern stopped both Hannah Cifers and Randa Markos inside one round in 2020. To prepare for such a high-profile test on the ground, “Carcara” decided to use a portion of the $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus check she pocketed in August.

“Thanks to that bonus we had the option to bring in more people to my camp,” said Jandiroba, who hired more jiu-jitsu specialists and boxers to her team leading up to UFC 256. “It was a very complete camp. We managed to bring a lot of people thanks to this investment. Thanks to the bonus we were able to do something we couldn’t before.”

Jandiroba was put “in many different situations that can happen in the fight” during her camp, she said, preparing for “unpredictabilities” while studying Dern’s biggest threats and weaknesses.

“My team and I studied many of her fights, not only the Amanda Ribas one,” she said, referring to Dern’s only MMA loss in 2019, “and the best thing was that the entire team observed the same things, the same holes, and also her strong points. It was very interesting that the whole team has converged to the same questions. We have to be very smart for this fight, very strategic and calm, to get the job done.”

The 32-year-old Brazilian, who went 3-0 under the Invicta FC banner before joining the UFC in 2019, is a fan of her matchup against Dern, saying “it’s a fight I would definitely want to buy a ticket to watch.”

“Not only we are two big names in the division, two jiu-jitsu names, two great grapplers in the division,” Jandiroba said, “I think this fight will define many things. It can define the future of the division.”

“She’s very popular, and I think a win over Mackenzie is a turning point [for me],” she continued. “Every fight is important, of course, but this is very important because it’s between two jiu-jitsu specialists. It can put me in great position in the organization. I believe I’ll be in the top 10 [with a win]. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a few steps away from being in the mix for a title shot.”