Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Mackenzie Dern after decision loss at UFC Vegas 61?

UFC Vegas 61 went down last Sat. night (Oct. 1, 2022) in “Sin City,” leaving plenty of fighters feeling the post-fight blues, including Don Shainis, who had a rude welcome to the Octagon after he was submitted by Sodiq Yusuff in just 30 seconds.

And former Combate Global star John Castaneda, who was knocked out by Daniel Santos in the second round of their bantamweight affair. But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Mackenzie Dern.

Coming into her fight against Yan Xiaonan, Dern didn’t exactly have a title fight on her mind, but it was in the back of her head as she was plotting her next move. Dern was trying to build off her win over Tecia Torres in order to improve on her Top 5 ranking.

Unfortunately for the grappling phenom, Xiaonan had other plans.

The Chinese-born fighter used her reach to keep Dern at bay while softening up her face with constant punches. But what was really impressive about Yan is that once she did get taken down, her defense was on point, refusing to let Dern catch her in any submissions.

Once her confidence was up, Yan began to utilize her striking and footwork to get in, tag her foe, and get out. After 25 minutes of action she had done more than enough to win the fight, snapping her two-fight skid in the process.

After the loss, Dern issued an emotional statement on Instagram.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone who cheered for me, you know? I messed up and … Yan did so good, she’s tough, she’s really tough, you guys. But yeah, thank you,” she said while trying to hold back the tears.

“This is just … I’m learning. I’m learning on the spot. I’m going to be a champion. I’m gonna be a champion one day, I just gotta learn. But, I tried my best and, you know, I really tried. I just gotta get better. But thank you guys so much. So yeah, thank you. I appreciate it.”

Dern does have the talent to perhaps one day get to a title fight — and I don’t think she’s peaked quite yet — but she seems to be missing a key ingredient in her attack. Dern’s biggest issue so far inside the Octagon is that she can’t quite win the big fight.

As far as what’s next, why not book her against Michelle Waterson? While the suggestion may seem odd since “Karate Hottie” is ranked No. 12 and Dern sits at No. 5, it’s a fight that may make sense for both women.

They both carry name value and are coming off losses, with Waterson on a two-fight losing streak following defeats to Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos. For Dern, getting past Waterson will give her some much-needed confidence, while “Karate Hottie” could get a jolt of renewed energy if she can hand the jiu-jitsu ace her second straight loss.

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