Mackenzie Dern warns Nina Ansaroff will be at a huge disadvantage at UFC Vegas 23

Mackenzie Dern

Surging UFC strawweight contender Mackenzie Dern has warned Nina Ansaroff that she will be at a huge disadvantage because she lacks any real ground game. 

Fighting out of Los Angeles, California, Dern (10-1) will look to strengthen her case for a UFC title shot when she faces Ansaroff, who will now fight as Nina Nunes after taking the surname of her wife Amanda Nunes.   

And as anticipation continues to build for UFC Vegas 23 on April 10, which is headlined by a potential title eliminator between Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace was asked for her thoughts on how her fight could play out.

“I think this is a great pairing for me,” Dern said to Combate. “Since she started out as a striker, she really is a fish out of water on the mat. However, Nina isn’t the number 5 fighter for nothing. I studied her a lot and I know she has very good takedown defense. I don’t think she’s ever been finished in her UFC career. My last fight was three rounds of striking, but I don’t want it this time. I really want to take it to the ground and be the first one to ever submit her in the UFC.

“I’m not that good at ground and pound, like Tatiana Suarez, who did that for three rounds (against Ansaroff). It was exhausting though, she took some head kicks and I don’t want that. I want to take her to the ground and scramble for a submission. I want to finish it so I can fight again and not break my nose again. That’s it.”

Last year, Dern bounced back from a three-round decision loss to Amanda Ribas by reeling off back-to-back submissions of Hannah Cifers and Randa Markos. She is coming off a win over fellow Brazilian Virna Jandiroba at UFC 256 in December 2020. 

Ansaroff hasn't been in action since dropping a unanimous decision loss to Tatiana Suarez. She announced that she was putting her career on hold for the time being to give birth to her first child. 

And while the 28-year-old mother to baby girl Moa is far too wise to overlook her experienced opponent, Dern is already starting to plan ahead.   

“Depending on how I win, if I win well, it could put me close to the belt,” Dern explained. “Rose Namajunas, Weili Zhang, Carla Esparza and Yan Xiaonan are all fighting in the coming weeks. I think a lot is going to happen in the top 5. I don’t know where they’ll put me, but I hope that it’s somewhere close to the fifth spot. I think 2021 will be a great year.”

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