Makenzie Dern is looking to make a big statement tomorrow night (Sat., Oct. 1, 2022) at UFC Vegas 61 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it all starts with being a more aggressive submission artist.
Dern, who is one of the most decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in all of mixed martial arts (MMA) today, has done well during her UFC career when the action hits the canvas. In seven career wins inside of the Octagon the Brazilian contender has snatched up four submissions, including an armbar, kneebar, and rear-naked choke.
That said, Dern’s level of competition has drastically increased over the past two years as she works towards the top of the 115-pound division. This has presented her with less opportunities to channel her world-class grappling and put her opponents in trouble. It also doesn’t help that Dern sometimes finds it difficult to inflict pain on others.
“They’re tough. These are the best of the best,” Dern told The Fighter vs. The Writer (via MMA Fighting). “We’re not playing here. These are former champions, champions, and they’re not going to tap because they feel pressure. I feel like with Tecia, I’m on the kimura and I’m doing it, I feel like 98 percent of the people would tap. You have to be a little bit mean like just rip it. Maybe they’ll tear their shoulder and have to have surgery or something like that. Of course, that’s not my goal but we’re all adults here. They’re going to try to hurt me.
“It’s just ingrained from memory like I need to do it. I need to be technical to get the position but I’m not going be like “OK, give her a chance to tap.’ No, you need to just go. She’s resisting, she knows she’s in a bad position. These are things that I’m thinking about during the fight like pretty soon she’s going to tap. Oh shoot, she’s not tapping. She’s resisting! Because these girls are tough. They’re not just going to give up a loss for nothing.”
In addition to the increased level of competition she has faced Dern has also focused on other facets of her game other than just grappling. Already one of the best submission specialists in the sport today Dern benefits from working on other areas of fighting like striking, wrestling, and conditioning. It hasn’t taken much away from her ability to grapple, but it may be affecting her timing.
“With Marina and Tecia, I got in good positions to submit them, with both of them,” Dern explained. “With Marina, I got the omo plata on her back and I didn’t finish the position. With Tecia, I had a kimura and a leg lock and I didn’t finish. Definitely even with a loss and a win, I’m learning something. I need to get my timing better.
“I think I lost a little bit with my adjustments, I’m not as tight on my timing with submissions, which is my strength. These are positions that if I get to these positions, omo plata or the kimura, I shouldn’t be losing it or I shouldn’t be not submitting.”
In order to change her fortune moving forward Dern is beginning to believe that she has to become more aggressive with her submission attempts. If she ends up hurting her opponent it’s simply a part of the sport.
“I lost that timing to get that submission and not letting it get away so definitely, I’ve been working on that for this fight,” Dern said. “I guess being a little bit meaner and hey, we all signed up for this and we’re on a different level now. I’m excited.
“I can’t be losing those positions. I should be finishing the fight there. Whatever she gives me, the back, the neck, the foot, leg, arm whatever she’ll give me. We’ll see. Hopefully she’ll tap.”
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