This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 23, Nina Nunes (10-7) returned to the octagon for the first time since 2019. Waiting for her was the surging strawweight contender and BJJ world champion, Mackenzie Dern (11-1).
Heading into UFC Vegas 23, the key for Nunes was keeping the fight standing. While Dern has made a ton of improvements in her striking, the general thought was that if the fight was on the feet, Nunes would have the advantage.
I also thought it would be important for Nunes to stay patient. When you’ve been out for a lengthy amount of time, it takes a couple of minutes to get adjusted to being back in the fire. So for Nunes, it was going to be key to not rush things in the cage.
On the flip side, Dern needed to push the pace at UFC Vegas 23. She needed to be in Nunes’ face to not let her get comfortable and that is exactly what she did. Her aggressive nature allowed her to land some good shots and get a takedown in the first round.
Once Dern had the fight on the ground, she was in full control. I will say, I was impressed with how Nunes defended for the majority of the round. However, in the end it didn’t matter. Dern locked up an armbar late in the round and took the victory at UFC Vegas 23.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 23?
As mentioned, this was Nina Nunes’ first fight since mid-2019. After taking last year off to give birth to her daughter, it was a lot to ask of her to take on someone like Mackenzie Dern in her UFC return.
Now that she’s got this first fight under her belt, I think she could get a quality opponent in her second fight back. There is one fight that I’m looking at for her next which seems like a very quality matchup.
For her next bout, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the UFC book her against Tecia Torres (12-5). Torres has won back-to-back fights which has put her tenth in the UFC rankings. Even with the loss, Nunes is seventh. Torres wants a step up in the rankings and Nunes needs a quality opponent. The matchup makes sense.