UFC news: Mackenzie Dern wants a title shot against Weili Zhang by the end of the year

Mackenzie Dern

UFC strawweight Mackenzie Dern says she is ready for her first title shot and would jump at the chance to face off with the winner of Weili Zhang and Rose Namajunas before the end of the year.

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace submitted Nina Nunes (nee Ansaroff) in the first round of their fight on the main card of Saturday's UFC Vegas 23. 

After a brief exchange on the feet, Dern wasted no time at all in dragging Nunes to the floor and forcing the veteran contender to tap with one of the slickest finishes we've seen since Demetrious Johnson tapped Ray Borg with a fifth-round armbar.

The 28-year-old American is still at the early stages of her UFC career but told ESPN that she believes she has done enough to warrant a title fight in 2021. 

However, she did admit she thinks she needs at least one or two more fights before facing either Zhang or Namajunas.

"I’m ready for the top girls, but maybe fight for the belt, maybe at the end of the year," Dern told ESPN. "A couple more fights, because the belt you want to be 100 percent, and I’m not 100 percent on what I need to do.

"I just need to be 100 percent on the go time, and that’s being able to be calm and to think. I’m getting there, but a first-round submission, you don’t really get to see those other parts. But I know that even if I submit my next [opponents] in the first round, I want to know that when I fight the champ, I’m ready even if I go the whole five rounds."

Mackenzie Dern

Given her recent success, it should come as no surprise that Dern, a former ADCC and no gi BJJ black belt world champion, is having a hard time finding opponents willing to face her; something which she addressed in her post-fight interview. 

"I don’t know, maybe a lot of girls won’t even want to fight me,” she said. “Maybe the less girls want to fight me, the champ will want to fight me.”

The question now is whether Dern (11-1) will get a crack at another top contender like Carla Esparza and Yan Xiaonan, who are scheduled to fight each other at UFC Fight Night on May 22, or continue to slowly work her way up the rankings. 

Dern's only loss in her career came at the hands of Amanda Ribas, who faces Angela Hill at UFC Fight Night on May 1, in October 2019. 

Mackenzie Dern

For her part, however, Dern says she's ready to compete for the strawweight strap before the end of the year.

When asked to elaborate, Dern said that she is confident in her abilities, and feels everything is pointed in the right direction.  

"All my world titles came when I felt this feeling, so I don’t want be overconfident, but I know that feeling when everything’s flowing and you do your best in training, and you do 100 percent, and that’s when everything works out,” she said. "That’s what I have in MMA, finally. I know things are going to work out.

"Of course, anything can happen. If you make mistakes, girls in the top-five they have way more experience in MMA, more than me. But I know what it’s like to be the champ in jiu-jitsu, and I bring that same momentum in MMA now."

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