Mackenzie Dern: I need to be more like Khabib

In a recent press conference ahead of her upcoming match, UFC women’s strawweight contender Mackenzie Dern opened up about adjustments she wants to make to her approach in combat sports.

After analyzing her strengths and weaknesses, Dern believes implementing former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s signature style of relentless pressure and dominant grappling is the key to taking her game to new heights.

“I mean, it’s clear to me I kind of just need to be more like Khabib and just go forward. I mean, that’s my style, you know. Keep them on their back feet and just pressuring and have them, you know, concerned about the takedown and just me getting close to them all the time.”

Khabib was a master at forcing opponents on their heels and overwhelming them with his physicality and pace. Dern recognizes that implementing a similar approach of pressuring opponents and hunting for takedowns could take her already formidable grappling skills to new levels.

Dern also wants to close off opportunities for her opponents to land strikes, similar to how Khabib would negate dangers on the feet by immediately changing levels for takedowns. As Dern put it, “You know, it’s almost easier to close them off instead of, you know, being in the strategic and giving too much opportunities for something to land.”

Additionally, Dern discussed capitalizing quicker when she rocks opponents on the feet. She said: “When I did land some shots, I got excited about it and then I landed like one, two, and I wanted to throw like a three or four or five instead of like, now’s a good time to go for the takedown.”

This directly correlates with how Khabib would often stagger foes on the feet before seamlessly transitioning to his wrestling to finish them off. Dern clearly wants to mirror Khabib’s ability to fluidly combine all aspects of MMA into one dominant style.

While Mackenzie Dern has always been a submission ace, implementing Khabib Nurmagomedov’s well-rounded yet grappling-centric approach could truly elevate her into an elite contender.