LOS ANGELES — Amanda Bobby Cooper has been very candid about her critiques of Mackenzie Dern’s game.
The UFC strawweight fighter said in an interview with FloCombat last month that Dern has “bad standup,” “doesn’t have good wrestling” and Cooper has not been “too impressed” by Dern’s fighting to this point. To BJPenn.com, Cooper said that Dern is “not much of a grappler.”
Dern has heard the criticisms, she said Wednesday at a UFC media day. And she has some of her own about Cooper, who she fights at UF 224 on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dern said she feels like this matchup with Cooper will be an easier one than her UFC debut at UFC 222 against Ashley Yoder.
“She doesn’t think I’m good at all, basically,” Dern said of Cooper. “It’s OK. I think that Ashley was a harder opponent than her. Ashley is like southpaw, tall. Most of Ashley’s losses by decision, never lost by submission. All of Amanda’s losses are by submission. So, I think the fight with Amanda is gonna be a good matchup with me. I think it’s gonna be way easier than against Ashley, who is taller and everything.”
Cooper (3-3) does have three submission losses on her record. Dern (6-0), of course, is considered one of the best female Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world, a two-time IBJJF world champion at black belt.
Dern, 25, beat Yoder by unanimous decision and Yoder had some success on the feet in that bout. Dern said she was trying to showcase her striking a bit then, but doesn’t want to do that against Cooper.
“I think most people are gonna be surprised by the punches,” Dern said. “I know they think like I click the automatic and you just go a little crazy. For sure, I’m a jiu-jitsu girl, but I’m not scared to punch. For sure, this fight I want to submit — like fast. The last fight with Ashley, I wanted to like stay standing up. I wanted to get the submission, but I didn’t have a rush to finish fast. But for Amanda, I want to submit fast. I’ll be in Brazil, I’m a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter, I want to like show jiu-jitsu. So, I’m going to finish as fast as possible this fight.”
Dern was born in Phoenix, but has Brazilian heritage. Her father is Wellington “Megaton” Dias, a legend in Brazilian jiu-jitsu circles. Dern spends a lot of time in Brazil and even considered living there after she was “invited to leave” The MMA Lab in Arizona after the Yoder fight. Instead, for the time being she is training with Checkmat and Blackhouse in the Los Angeles area.
On Cooper’s comments, Dern said it was unexpected, especially with Cooper having to enter hostile territory in Rio.
“It’s the first person I’m fighting that’s kind of talking about me, so I’m surprised,” Dern said. “If it was in Vegas, I think it would be different. But man, she’s fighting in Brazil and she’s like talking a lot. I think it’s gonna be worse for her. … You know the ‘uhh vai morrer,’ they’re gonna say it no matter what, but the more she talks, the worst.”
Dern, though, said she’s not upset by Cooper’s marks. She just has some advice for her.
“It’s OK that she thinks that, but she’s been submitted,” Dern said. “So I think her ground needs to get better first before she says [something] about my ground.”