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UFC Denver’s Amanda Cooper says losing to Mackenzie Dern taught her to relax

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Things didn’t go as planned for Amanda Bobby Cooper (3-4) when she last stepped into the Octagon. Back in May, at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she faced the undefeated Mackenzie Dern (who weighed-in at 123 lbs for the strawweight bout). Cooper lost the fight to Dern via submission in the first round.

Leading up to the Dern fight Cooper stated publicly that she was sure Dern would struggle with her weight-cut and come in heavy. Cooper told Bloody Elbow that no matter how much Dern weighed-in at she would still fight her.

Speaking ahead of her UFC Fight Night: Korean Zombie vs. Rodriguez bout with Ashley Yoder, Cooper reaffirmed to Bloody Elbow that she was completely prepared for Dern to miss weight and was not mentally affected when it happened.

However, Cooper did admit that the extra weight Dern was carrying in their contest did put her at a disadvantage. “Strength is a factor, especially when you are 115 lbs and you are a female,” said Cooper. “Strength and size is a factor. When two fighters are on the same sort of levels and someone has a ten pounds difference, there is an advantage.”

“I didn’t expect her to be eight and a half pounds over,” continued Cooper. “I expected her to be a couple of pounds over. So I should have probably taken it a little slower and talked to my coaches a bit more, but I was pretty dead set on taking the fight. I’d been training for it. I wanted it. We were there, so let’s do it. I don’t know if that would have changed the result, but definitely weight was a factor.”

Cooper was obviously sore to lose against Dern, and have her record drop below .500. However, the Michigan based fighter said that the camp and fight against Dern brought about a profound realization that, she thinks, will only benefit her going forwards.

“I’m always very obsessed with being perfect in my camp,” revealed Cooper. “My training has to be perfect. My weight has to be perfect, my training partners, my mindset… I do everything I can. I don’t go out late. I don’t go drinking. I don’t eat fast food. I do everything as perfect as I believe is possible because I want every advantage.

“And for that fight I really felt like I went above and beyond with what I thought was perfect. I did everything right; the weight cut, all these things, I trained three times, four times a day, I did all of this. I thought I was perfect and in the end perfection didn’t matter because I still lost.

“And I had to realize that it doesn’t matter in the end. All that does is whose hand is getting raised. So it kind of let me be a little relaxed. I still train the same, I still eat the same, I still do everything, but I don’t have to stress about it. I don’t have to think if I’m not perfect I’ll lose, because anything can happen in a fight.”

Cooper said something else that makes the loss to Dern slightly easier to take is how good the Brazilian is. Cooper’s other pro losses in MMA are against Cynthia Calvillo, Tatiana Suarez, and Aspen Ladd. All of those fighters, as well as Dern, have been talked up as potential UFC champions.

“I have fought really tough women,” said Cooper. “On paper, nobody really cares. They see my record on they’re like, ‘Oh let’s count her out.’ But I have fought really tough people and that’s what keeps my head held high.”

On Saturday night Cooper meets another fighter who has had a tough run in the UFC. Yoder comes into Denver on a three fight losing streak. She lost to Mackenzie Dern in March, and Angela Hill and Justine Kish before that.

“She’s fought some really tough people and the losses she’s had were tough — she hasn’t been finished,” said Cooper when asked about Yoder’s record. “But she’s 0-3, so that’s got to play mentally. After each loss I’ve had, I’ve had to really struggle mentally to pick myself back up and say, ‘You’re worth it. You can do this. You’re talented.’ I’ve had to always talk myself up. And for those three losses in a row, it’s hard to pick yourself up. But she’s faced tough girls, she keeps training, she keeps competing, so kudos to her. I imagine she’ll be training very hard for this fight.”

Along with her regular team at Scorpion Fighting System in Brighton, MI, Cooper has benefited from training with UFC fighters Montana De La Rosa and Andrea Lee and RIZIN/KOTC vet Andy Nguyen. Thanks in part to this quality of training partners, Cooper said she’s confident she’ll beat Yoder on Saturday night.

“I just see me being better than her in every way. I’m not nervous to get in any kind of exchange with her whether it’s on the feet or on the ground. So I believe Ashley is going to have a really hard time fighting me in any area and I think her cardio is going to go down the more I hit her and I should be able to pick her apart from there and finish her whenever I want.”

Ashley Yoder vs. Amanda Cooper is the FS1 featured prelim for UFC Fight Night: Korean Zombie vs. Rodriguez. The event, which takes place on November 10th at the Pepsi Center, also features Donald Cerrone vs. Mike Perry, Raquel Pennington vs. Germaine de Randamie, and Joe Benavidez vs. Ray Borg.

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