Just six fights into her professional MMA career, highly touted UFC strawweight prospect Mackenzie Dern (6-0-0) has moved on from the camp where her pro career began.
Speaking on Wednesday at a media lunch ahead of her UFC 224 fight with Amanda Bobby Cooper, Dern confirmed that she was asked to leave the MMA Lab shortly after her successful UFC debut, a unanimous decision victory over Ashley Yoder at UFC 222.
“In relation with the Lab, after my last fight, Coach [John] Crouch, he just invited me to leave the team,” Dern said. “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.”
Crouch confirmed in a statement that Dern was finding it difficult splitting her time between the Arizona based gym and her home in California. Her former coach also made it clear that there were no hard feelings on his side in relation to the move.
“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.”
Since leaving the MMA Lab, 25-year-old Dern has spent time training in the Los Angeles area, splitting her time between Checkmat for jiu-jitsu and Black House MMA for striking. It is an arrangement which allows Dern to balance training with her desired lifestyle, something the jiu-jitsu champion says is working out for her so far.
“It’s nothing 100 percent or anything like that, but for this camp I’ve been working with them and I’m feeling so good,” Dern said
“I think, like I said, the mindset and being confident, if you’re happy, too, with where you are, it’s the best,” Dern added. “Here is a little bit similar lifestyle that I have in Brazil. I almost went back to Brazil to live there. I was even training with Jose Aldo down there and everything and seeing if I would be there. So, I have this lifestyle here in California, which gives me that good balance.”
Mackenzie Dern will face Amanda Bobby Cooper at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 12 May. The event is headlined by a women’s bantamweight title contest between reigning champion Amanda Nunes and challenger, Raquel Pennington.