Mackenzie Dern fueled by ‘aggression’ from ‘crazy’ divorce ahead of Angela Hill fight

Mackenzie Dern is fueled by the stresses of her personal life ahead of her UFC Vegas 73 headliner.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 4 months ago
Mackenzie Dern fueled by ‘aggression’ from ‘crazy’ divorce ahead of Angela Hill fight
IMAGO Images / Zuma Wire

Mackenzie Dern has some added motivation for her upcoming UFC Vegas 73 headliner with Angela Hill this Saturday at the APEX. The 30-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and ADCC gold medalist spoke to the media on Wednesday, where she revealed how some of her personal issues have fueled her ahead of her third main event fight. 

Dern also touched on some of the things she worked on during camp, which she says was a breakthrough for her in almost seven years as a professional fighter. 

Mackenzie Dern motivated by “crazy” divorce

In a social media post in late 2022, Mackenzie Dern confirmed her split with husband Wesley Santos, with whom she shares a daughter. Without giving too much details, Dern said she’d been single for a “few months” already. 

She was likewise mum about the details of her situation with Santos, but as she told reporters, the situation fueled by “a lot of aggression” is an added motivation for her coming into the fight. 

“It’s been so crazy. My divorce has been crazy. Coach Parillo, he was out of town for a month with Luke for his bare-knuckle fight. 

“Definitely for this fight, I’m coming with a lot of aggression from my personal life and everything. Nothing personal against Angela, I have a lot of respect for her, but I need to get it done.” 

Mackenzie Dern shares biggest learning as a professional fighter

While she did find success in MMA through her grappling prowess, Dern has had her roadblocks fighting at the elite level. And by dealing with her losses, she says she’s made some changes in terms of her approach. 

“Basically, this camp was (about) tactic, and having this vision of fighting that I never had before. And I feel kind of, like, ‘Man, I’m like ten fights in the UFC and I just found that out now.’ To understand that I just need to win the round, and if you do that each round, you win the fight. 

“Instead of me thinking… I would finish the round and out of one minute, I’d spend maybe 20 seconds, like, ‘Did I win that round?’”

For Dern, finally getting to make these changes would be helpful as a top ten fighter like herself. 

“At this level at the top five, top ten, you can’t finish the round and not know if you won or not. You need to be leaving the round and know, like, ‘I’m winning here. I’m losing here. What do I need to do to steal the round? What are the judges seeing?’” 

Dern (12-3) is coming off a loss against Yan Xiaonan in October. Her fight with Hill was initially slated for UFC on ABC 4 last weekend. However, it had to be postponed to a week later after UFC Vegas 73’s original headliner between Raquel Pennington and Irene Aldana was scrapped when the latter was tapped as the new challenger for Amanda Nunes.

Share this story

About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories