Mackenzie Dern - Biography

Mackenzie Lynne Dern Santos is a professional mixed martial artist and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner from the United States. She is a former world No. 1 IBJJF competitor who is now rated 6th in the female categories. She is a World Champion in ADCC and no gi BJJ (black belt).

She is currently ranked #4 in the UFC women's strawweight rankings and #12 in the UFC women's pound-for-pound rankings as of August 9, 2021.


Dern was born in Arizona, the daughter of Wellington 'Megaton' Dias, a former grappling champion. She spent her childhood travelling back and forth between Arizona and her father's birthplace Brazil. Dern speaks English and Portuguese fluently.

She has said that Portuguese has been her first language, and she has explained why 'My father and stepmother are both Brazilian. My guy is fluent in Portuguese. I'm speaking more Portuguese than English. Of course, I still have a lot of encounters in English. But I think in Portuguese, everything about fighting is in Portuguese in my head, and I dream in Portuguese.'

Dern began training at the age of three, working with her father and stepmother, Luciana Tavares, who is also a black belt. Mackenzie began competing at an early age and advanced to the adult categories when she was 14 years old. She has won a global championship at every belt level on her way to black belt, which she received from her father in December 2012, three months before her twentieth birthday. She graduated from Glendale, Arizona's Ironwood High School.

Mackenzie is the only female Jiu-Jitsu competitor to have earned Gold Medals, at Black Belt level, at each of the five principal/highest ranked IBJJF Gi Championships - the other events are the Worlds, Euros, Pan Ams, and Brazilian Nationals - thanks to her six first-place results at the Asian Open. One of her most notable BJJ accomplishments was defeating Gabi Garcia despite a massive weight differential, being one of just a few women to do it.

Mackenzie with his family
Legacy Fighting Alliance

Dern was supposed to make her MMA debut against Kenia Rosas at Legacy FC 58. She earned her debut by a unanimous vote. Dern was set to compete against Montana De La Rosa at Legacy FC 61. The fight was originally supposed to take place at strawweight, but it was later moved to catchweight after Dern missed weight by 2.8 pounds. She won the bout by submission in the first round. Dern was set to face Katherine Roy at LFA 6.

Dern was overweight for the second week in a row, missing weight by four pounds, and was forced to lose 20% of her payout. She was victorious by unanimous decision. Dern stepped up to flyweight for her fourth professional bout, which was set to take place at LFA 24 against Mandy Polk. Polk was defeated via a first-round rear-naked choke. Dern joined with Invicta Fighting Championship in November 2017 after being 4-0 in her first four professional fights.

Dern with a champion belt
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

Dern made her UFC 222 debut on March 3, 2018, against Ashley Yoder. She won the bout by a unanimous decision. Dern fought Amanda Cooper at UFC 224 on May 12, 2018. Dern weighed in at 123 pounds, 7 pounds over than the strawweight non-title bout upper limit of 116 pounds. As a result, the fight was fought at catchweight, and Dern was penalised 30% of her purse. Dern won the fight in the first round by submission through a rear naked choke.

Dern fought Amanda Ribas at UFC on ESPN+ 19 on October 12, 2019, following a pause from maternity leave. She was defeated by a unanimous decision. Dern was scheduled to meet Ariane Carnelossi at UFC Fight Night 173 on April 25, 2020. Due to travel restrictions, Carnelossi was forced to withdraw from the fight. Dern was supposed to compete against Hannah Cifers on April 25, 2020.

However, on April 9, the promotion stated that the event had been rescheduled. Woodley vs. Burns was finally scheduled on May 30, 2020 at UFC on ESPN. Dern won the battle with a first-round kneebar, becoming the first woman in UFC history to end a bout with any type of leg hold. This was also her first victory for Performance of the Night. Dern fought Randa Markos at UFC Fight Night 178 on September 19, 2020. On April 10, 2021, Dern fought Nina Ansaroff at UFC on ABC 2. She won the fight with an armbar in the first round.

This victory earned her the title for Performance of the Night. Dern is set to meet Marina Rodriguez on UFC Fight Night 194 on October 9, 2021.

Dern's personal life revolves around her marriage to renowned surfer Wesley Santos.

Dern revealed in February 2019 that she has put her MMA career on hiatus due to pregnancy. Moa, her daughter, was born on June 9, 2019. According to Dern, she left Black House MMA following a reported incident involving her previous instructor, Juan Gomez, in which he got into a violent confrontation with her husband over a money dispute. However, Gomez denied that money was the cause, and both Dern and her husband were asked to quit the team as a result.

Dern after winning a match at ufc