After winning her debut fight in the UFC, former Brazlian jiu-jitsu champion Mackenzie Dern is leaving the gym she started her MMA career with, and not on her own terms.
Dern, 25, defeated Ashley Yoder in her promotional debut by unanimous decision in March and says that she was asked to leave The MMA Lab in Arizona – her home state – after the win for reasons she's not totally sure of.
"In relation with the Lab, after my last fight, Coach (John) Crouch, he just invited me to leave the team," Dern toldat a UFC media lunch Wednesday. "I think really we don’t have a 100 percent understanding. I think he knows his decisions more than me. I think with just the consistency, he wanted me to be there more often than what I was, but everything happens for a reason."
Dern (6-0) is currently training in Los Angeles, splitting her jiu-jitsu and striking between two gyms, and believes the California lifestyle is better suited for how she likes to train.
Crouch insists he invited Dern to leave because of issues she faced traveling between Arizona and California.
“She was struggling to make it back and forth to Arizona, and I thought it was better that she just set up her camp in California, where she really enjoys being,” Crouch said. “I wish her the best. I know she’s going to do great in her jiu-jitsu career and in her MMA career, and we’ll be cheering for her.”
Dern, the daughter of Brazilian jiu-jitsu great Wellington Dias, has trained in Brazil in the past and says she may move her camp back to South America again, but for now, she's enjoying her self-controlled style of preparation that she thinks didn't always sit well with Crouch.
"I’m not the person that the next day I’m back in the academy. I like to be able to be on the beach and relax and miss to be on the mats and want to be on the mats," said Dern. "I don't like to feel the pressure to be on the mats. I'm on the mats since I'm three years old. For me, at 25, when I have the time to rest and everything, then the next time, it's like, man I want to train. I like to have that drive."
Dern is set to face Amanda Cooper (3-3) in her second UFC matchup on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on UFC 224's main card.
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