Ronda Rousey put women's mixed martial arts on the map. Without her, it's highly unlikely women would have ever fought on big league shows. Before Rousey entered the sport, she was a judo wizard who ended up winning a bronze medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics to become the first American female to medal in the sport.
Now, a new female is on the rise and looking to become the new face of the sport.
Mackenzie Dern is the best female Jiu Jitsu practitioner in the world today. She is the No. 1 ranked female Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation She's also an ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Submission Wrestling World Champion and a no gi BJJ (black belt) World Champion.
The MMA Lab fighter made the move to MMA in July is 2-0 with one win by submission. She returns to the cage on Friday night for Legacy Fighting Alliance when she goes up against Katherine Roy. Many have already started the comparisons of Dern to the former UFC women's bantamweight champion. She respects what Rousey did before her, but plans on knocking that door down and becoming bigger than Rousey ever was.
"I definitely think her personality is very strong," Dern told Fightful. "I think that a lot of her fights she had the intimidation factor. Of course, she’s a great athlete. It was a very big advantage for her too. She’s very intimidating and going aggressive. Not that the girls were scared of her, but it’s like if she got your arm, maybe they were like ‘Oh, shoot, she gets everyone’s arm. No way, I’m going to get out’.
"With me it’s different. I don’t think people are so intimidated by me. I’m always smiling to everyone. I’m not the scariest person. I don’t know if I’ll have so many submissions or finish fights in 15 seconds. I definitely think there is only one Ronda Rousey but I think I have everything to be as big and bigger than what she has done. If I can put my ji-jitsu and just be as dominant, winning all of my fights and trying to be a good inspiration and a good role model. I definitely think I have everything to be bigger than everything she has done for women so far. I hope to do even more and add to everything she’s done but with my own style, my own personality, my own flavor."
While she isn't in the UFC yet, Dern plans on doing a couple different Jiu Jitsu tournaments and vows to make her octagon debut in the latter half of 2017.
"In the UFC, for sure," Dern stated. "Maybe one or two fights. My goal is to stop ji-jitsu at the worlds this year and just do the ADCC (defending champion) which is every two years. I’d like to defend my title at the ADCC in September. After the worlds, maybe in between June and September have a fight and then after September, have another fight. It all just depends when we decide to go to the UFC. If it’s after this fight, if I’ll do one more. Everything just depends but definitely in the UFC with a win there too."