Mackenzie Dern has explained why she takes inspiration from Charles Oliveira’s run to becoming a UFC champion.
The revival of Brazilian mixed martial arts has been really important across the last couple of years with a parade of new stars bursting through to prove that the nation is still able to produce top talent.
One man who stands head and shoulders above most, of course, is none other than Charles Oliveira.
‘Do Bronx’ isn’t officially recognised as the UFC lightweight champion but thanks to wins over Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje, he’s still largely viewed as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the division – which is a reputation he’ll get the chance to defend at UFC 280 against Islam Makhachev.
Mackenzie Dern, meanwhile, is still trying to reach the top of the mountain, and she noted in a recent interview that Oliveira is exactly the kind of role model she wants.
The impact of Charles
“He’s definitely matured as a fighter,” Dern said. “He’s been almost 10 years in the UFC. You can definitely tell he’s really hit this maturity as a fighter, intelligent, confident, strategic, it’s all kind of connected now. He’s gotten to be the black belt in MMA.
“[It took] 10 years [for him] to get to this point — now he’s there. He’s the best in the world,” Dern said. “There’s no doubt about it. Even just his story, his journey, it’s definitely inspiring for me. Be calm, take your time, each fight learn. Sometimes Charles he gets rocked a little bit and he pulls guard. That’s something that I’m learning to play smart. OK, if I get rocked, don’t stay standing and try to give it back. You can pull guard. See if they come into your guard.
“All that’s time and experience you get. 100 percent, I can connect and be inspired by Charles ‘Do Bronx.’”
The rise of Mackenzie
While she does have two losses on her UFC record, 29-year-old Mackenzie Dern is unquestionably a star in the making at strawweight.
In addition to being incredibly marketable, Dern is one of the most skilled technicians in the top 15 – and she seems to be going from strength to strength with every passing fight she has.
Dern has won five of her last six inside the Octagon and on Saturday night, she faces yet another big challenge in the form of a main event clash with Yan Xiaonan at the UFC Apex.