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Mackenzie Dern and the Race to be the First Mom Champ

Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Dern Instagram

“Congratulations! You have a healthy baby girl and can now return to knocking people out for a living.” Maybe that’s not exactly how it went as Mackenzie Dern is more likely to get the rear-naked choke finish but it’s probably something she wanted to hear. As a newly minted mother, Mackenzie Dern (7–0) makes her return against Jiu-Jitsu black belt holder, Amanda Ribas (7-1), on October 12 inside Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida for UFC on ESPN+19. Ribas looks to add to her 2-fight win streak while Dern has been out of action for over a year since her May 12, 2018 rear-naked choke submission victory over Amanda Bobby Cooper.

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Our daughter, Moa, is here! June 9th at 8:25pm! A little late, stubborn, american/brazilian, beautiful, perfect, God’s gift and our family’s biggest pride! Delivery was smooth and I had the most important people by my side! Welcome here my baby girl! We love you so much! || Nossa filha, Moa, chegou! Dia 9 de Junho as 20:25h! Um pouco atrasada, teimosa, gringa/brasileira, linda, perfeita, presente de Deus e a maior orgulho da nossa família! O parto foi ótimo com as pessoas mais importante ao meu lado! Bem vinda filha!! Amamos vc!! 💕🍼 🎉

A post shared by Mackenzie Dern 🇺🇸🇧🇷 (@mackenziedern) on Jun 10, 2019 at 5:01pm PDT

Mackenzie Dern re-enters the cage only four months after announcing the birth of a healthy baby girl, Moa, on June 9th at 8:25 pm. An unexpected side effect of childbirth is everything seems easier now in comparison, especially training. During an interview on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Dern notes that the daily grind and annoying parts of training no longer seem bothersome compared to the family life. Cardio and grappling can’t compare to the late nights and constant care of a newborn so it’s possible we see an even better and more dangerous Dern in her contest against Ribas. Dern also mentioned newfound mom strength that often comes through either the process of childbirth or the mentality of going through it which can only add to her resolve.

The UFC administered numerous tests at the Performance Institute to check how her body reacted to the pregnancy. It showed Dern is in perfect fighting shape and the quick turnaround is not an issue. She told Helwani, “They wanted to see how much carbohydrates my body was burning while resting or if it was fat. Those types of tests. Everything was good and they were surprised.” The UFC trainers were also concerned with how her breast milk would be affected. Speaking to, Dern noted “The UFC was struggling to decide if they would clear me or not because I’m still breast-feeding, they were afraid that I would stop producing milk when I cut weight and affect my daughter, but it’s all good.”

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Almost time! 💪🏼🙏🏼 Oct. 12th – @ufc Tampa @myproteinus @wartribegear

A post shared by Mackenzie Dern 🇺🇸🇧🇷 (@mackenziedern) on Oct 3, 2019 at 7:46am PDT

With a clean bill of health, Mackenzie Dern’s next goal is to challenge for the title. Dern said, “I have another goal now: be the first mother to win a championship belt in the UFC.” The sentiment is shared by Michelle Waterson (17-6) who headlines the same UFC on ESPN+19 card. On “Michelle Waterson: Making of the Mom Champ”, Waterson says, “I just want to be the voice for all the mothers out there that are true warriors and be the first mom champ for the UFC.” Waterson, who fights Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3), has more experience than Dern, but both mother fighters are only a win or two away from a title shot.

Though Waterson has 16 more fights to her name, there doesn’t appear to be much stopping Dern on her rise to title contention. If their upcoming bouts are any indication, it may be Dern who has the advantage. Dern has a tough opponent with Ribas, but Waterson is facing Jedrzejczyk, the former strawweight champion who pound-for-pound has arguably the best standup game in any weight class. Whether by fate or coincidence, these two bouts on the same card have the potential to change the landscape of the entire division. I see Waterson getting an immediate title shot with a victory whereas Dern may need another fight to justify the same. Then again with the volatile history of the sport and ranking system, we never know exactly how far away from the opportunity these fighters are.

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Step by step… | passo a passo… 📷—> @desautomatas

A post shared by Mackenzie Dern 🇺🇸🇧🇷 (@mackenziedern) on Aug 20, 2019 at 7:37pm PDT

What we can be sure of is how impressive it is that Mackenzie Dern is making a return to the cage so quickly after giving birth. I’m always amazed at how these fighters go through such an intense experience and come through unphased and stronger than before. With the smallest cheerleader by her side, Dern looks to not only prove how resilient and powerful a post-birth body can be but also add the title of first mom champ in UFC history as her next accomplishment.

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