UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby confirmed Saturday night that Mackenzie Dern will make her promotional debut at UFC 222 on March 3, 2018 in Las Vegas. The highly anticipated and undefeated prospect will be met by Ashley Yoder. The 24-year-old Dern, a premier Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor, transitioned to professional MMA in July of 2016 under Legacy Fighting Alliance (formerly Legacy FC). Her Invicta debut on December 8 brought her perfect record to 5-0 when she finished Kaline Medeiros via armbar.
Familiar with the big stage
With an impressive grappling lineage, Dern is widely regarded as one of the greatest female Jiu-Jitsu competitors of all time.Throughout her BJJ career, Dern has achieved several of the highest accolades in the sport, including several world championships and gold at ADCC.
Her opponent, 30-year-old Ashley Yoder, has a professional record of 5-3 and has dropped her first two UFC bouts by unanimous decision. Yoder entered the UFC in 2016 via the Ultimate Fighter season 23 competing on team Jedrzejczyk.
Too much too soon?
It has not yet been confirmed which weight class the promotional newcomer will compete in. Dern has fought at 115 lbs. in four of her five professional fights. However, she has missed weight twice. I would speculate that she would continue at strawweight but a start at flyweight might not be a bad idea. While the lighter division is a shark tank infested with 115 lb. contenders, the new flyweight class is in desperate need of stars.
Regardless of what weight she fights at, the UFC needs to tread lightly with Dern. Although she is improving rapidly, she still has some holes in her game. She showed major improvements in her striking against Medeiros before finishing her on the ground. I think a longer run in Invicta would have been wise, but a slow introduction to the UFC, allowing her to climb through the division and continue to make a name for herself may also prove to be her best course.