If you think Mackenzie Dern considers her seven-pound weight miss some sort of big joke, the potential star has a message for you.
“I’m ashamed of that,” Dern said at the UFC 224 post-fight press conference. “I don’t want that to happen again.”
Dern came in at 123 pounds for a scheduled strawweight bout with Amanda Cooper on Friday, which didn’t stop Dern from earning a first-round submission win on Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro.
Afterward, Dern said that a handful of factors played into the scale fail, including missed flights that caused her to arrive late enough to throw her regimen off-kilter.
“I can tell you 10,000 excuses, but I really believe that what happened with my weight is way back months ago in my last fight,” Dern said. “I think I need to get my diet right and the fact I was able to do it before, I thought I knew what I was doing. A lot of things have been happening. It’s not an excuse, missed flights and a lot of things happened and I just kept going and going.”
Dern says ultimately, the decision was to stop the weight cut early in the two-hour weigh-in window.
“On Thursday night, i was a bit nervous and I talked to my manager with everyone and I said ‘this is rough I don’t know how this is going to go tomorrow let’s see’” Dern said. “But on Friday I woke up at 6 a.m., I went to the sauna, we were trying and trying, my mind was fine, I was conscious, but there was a point where the weight wasn’t going away any more. The commission was already there and when 9 o’clock came, the weigh-ins were from 9-11 I was there for two hours and I only lost 500 grams and they said you’re not going to make weight, so then they were looking to make catchweight. I tried my hardest, it wasn’t my decision to stop, but the commission and my manager and everyone made the decision.”
The 24-year-old jiu-jitsu world champion said she knew her miss would be criticized, but she couldn’t spent too much energy on it. She also believed being at home in Brazil made the public’s reaction better than it might have been otherwise.
“I felt that even if I won, that people would say it is because of my weight,” Dern said. “I didn’t think about it, the only thing I thought is that I’m going to go out there and do my best. I think what helped the most is that I fought in Brazil. I think if I fought anywhere, Vegas or another place, I would have felt it more. But I knew that fighting here in Brazil, representing Brazil, I know how Brazilians support their athletes in any form, regardless of anything. The people support me either way.”
Dern intends to work with the UFC Performance Institute to ensure Friday’s fiasco never happens again.
“My manager said the UFC wants me to move up in weight. I believe that’s what they want,” Dern said. “On Friday, [UFC matchmaker] Mick [Maynard] called me and said we have an institute here in Vegas, and we’re going to invest in you, we want you here, we’re going to work with you, so I said OK I’m going to work for you guys. I can’t lose that opportunity to get all that out from this organization which is so big and help me make weight. They told me even without a fight, they’re going to make me make weight and they’re going to stay on me, but that’s what I need. Not that it’s not important I believe in what they’re offering to me. I’m going to take their help. “
At the end of the day, Dern improved to 7-0, showing off both standup skills and her ground game. And besides, others have done worse than miss weight.
“Not that one thing is worse than the other but I don’t take steroids, I wasn’t popping,” Dern said. “There were champions who popped for cocaine and things like that. For me, it is a mistake. The UFC is investing in me and I’m going to work with them for that to never happen again.”