Meet the MMA star tipped to be bigger than Ronda Rousey

Rowdy's got some competition from Mackenzie Dern.

Mackenzie Dern
The new Ronda? Mackenzie Dern is being tipped for MMA greatness. Image Picture Instagram/Mackenzie Dern

Despite Ronda Rousey’s shock defeat to Holly Holm last year, Rowdy is still the biggest name in women’s MMA.

All that might be changing soon, though. Particularly if Bellator star Benson Henderson’s latest prediction comes to pass.

Speaking to MMA Hour, Henderson has tipped 23-year-old jiu-jitsu fighter Mackenzie Dern to “dominate” the sport.

“She will be bigger than Ronda Rousey before Ronda Rousey lost,” Henderson said. “She’s going to be huge. She’s going to be big. She has an excellent work ethic.

“Go look her up, she is a multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion. She’s won ADCC. She’s won Abu Dhabi. She’s won Worlds. She’s the current number one ranked female jiu-jitsu practitioner on the planet.

“She has an amazing work ethic. She’s an amazing athlete. She definitely needs to work on her MMA skills, but her ground game is phenomenal. Any woman on the planet goes to the ground with Mackenzie and Mackenzie is going to tap her, or dominate her like she did her first opponent.”

Dern, who was born in Arizona, USA but holds Brazilian nationality, began training at the age of three under her dad Wellington Dias, one of Brazil’s top jiu-jitsu black belts. Her stepmother Luciana Tavares is also a black belt, so brawling is very much something in the family.

By the age of 14 she was competing in adult divisions and has bagged a world championship in every belt as she made her way to black belt.

☀️⛱👙💚

A photo posted by Mackenzie Dern (@mackenziedern) on

Her goal is to move from into UFC by 2017, something Henderson thinks is a sure thing. And beyond that? She may even replicate Rousey’s film career.

“Mackenzie’s game is great for MMA because her fundamentals are so strong… it allows her to do some fancier stuff on the ground, and then because her fundamentals are so strong, it allows her to do well in MMA also,” he said.

“I think her working her butt off, staying grounded in the MMA world, getting better, growing, she’s super young, she’s going to be a big huge star. In 10 years you’ll see her in movies and stuff and she’s going to do great. She’s going to be awesome.”

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn