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Mackenzie Dern hopes historic matchup with Nina Nunes on ABC can grow, inspire female UFC audience

Mackenzie Dern and Nina Nunes will break down another wall for women’s MMA this Saturday.

The strawweight matchup takes place on the main card of UFC Vegas 23 at the APEX, and will also serve as the first women’s UFC bout to air on ABC television. Saturday’s event will be the second to air on ABC following UFC Fight Island 7 in January.

For Dern, who is looking to build upon an impressive 3-0 campaign in 2020, she is hoping the placement on the card and network will help grow, as well as inspire, the female audience of the UFC. In addition, she’s honored to take on a fellow mother in Nunes.

“I think it’s great and I’m so happy that it will reach more people,” Dern told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “I think it’s even better that we’re both moms, so that’s really, really cool. I don’t know if it’s the first recent mom fight, but I think a lot of women will be able to connect and identify their stories with us, and can kind of get some different people interested and watching women’s MMA.

“I’m hoping that guys will be happy that their girls will be excited to watch the girls fight, that they’ll be like, ‘Look at these girls.They’re moms,’ and things like that. I think it’s really, really good and we’re going to put on a great show for everybody.”

Ansaroff is set to make her first appearance since giving birth to her daughter Raegan Ann in September. Nunes and partner, current UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes became parents for the first time, with the latter earning a first-round submission win over Megan Anderson at UFC 259 to retain her featherweight title in her first fight as a mom.

The 35-year-old Nunes hasn’t competed since her decision loss to Tatiana Suarez at UFC 238 in June 2019, which snapped a four-fight winning streak.

Dern has continued to improve since becoming a mom herself nearly two years ago. She kicked off 2020 with the first leg lock submission win in women’s UFC history over Hannah Cifers. The 28-year-old also submitted Randa Markos in September before capping the year with a hard fought unanimous decision win over Virna Jandiroba at UFC 256.

As her skills continue to grow and the platform continues to get larger, Dern is hoping that can inspire other women to accomplish their dreams as well.

“I went into MMA because I wanted to [shine more light] on women’s jiu-jitsu,” Dern said. “I felt if I could represent jiu-jitsu, and women’s jiu-jitsu on the big platform like the UFC and show how efficient this is, than that’s the whole reason why I got into MMA. On top of that, becoming a mom, I wanted to show, and also inspire women that we work hard, we have technique, we train hard and we can be moms, daughters, wives and all these other things and still go and kick butt.”

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