This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 23, Mackenzie Dern (11-1) took on the returning Nina Nunes (10-7) on the main card. Nunes was ranked fifth in the division, but she was making her first appearance since 2019 after giving birth to her daughter last year.
Dern on the other hand had fought and won three times in the UFC in 2020. The jiu jitsu world champion was looking to pickup her fourth consecutive win on her march towards a potential shot at the strawweight title.
Over the last year, Dern has spent her time training under Jason Parillo. During that time, we’ve seen incredible improvements in her striking to go along with her world class skills on the ground.
However, she was going to have her toughest striking matchup at UFC Vegas 23. On Saturday night, Dern fought exactly how she needed to fight. With Nunes having been out for so long, Dern immediately pressed the action.
She set a vicious pace early which didn’t allow Nunes the time to get comfortable. Dern chained some big lunging punches into a takedown attempt. After Nunes defended well throughout the round, Dern was able to lockup an armbar and secure her fourth straight UFC victory.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 23?
Make no mistake about it, Mackenzie Dern is looking like she’s going to be a force in the strawweight division. Dern said that her goal was to fight for the UFC title before the end of 2021.
So after another big win, what’s next? Dern made the jump up to fifth in the strawweight rankings after this week’s update. For her next fight, I think there are a couple fights that could make sense for Dern.
The highest profile fight would be against former UFC strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). Jedrzejczyk has been enjoying life outside the cage, but once fans return, she said she’ll ready to come back.
If Dern wants to fight for the title before the year is over, Jedrzejczyk would be the opponent that could put her in that position. Another matchup the UFC could look at is a matchup with Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2).
Rodriguez is ranked one spot behind Dern in the rankings and she’s coming off of a massive win. She knocked out Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 in January. Ribas is the lone strawweight to have defeated Dern. With that, this matchup with Rodriguez also makes a ton of sense for the promotion.