Mackenzie Dern ready to face teammates: “It’s my job”

Mackenzie at the 2012 Pan

Mackenzie at the 2012 Pan Photo: Mike Calimbras.

Jiu-Jitsu world champion from blue to brown belt, Mackenzie Dern, 19, is taming her anxiety for her second IBJJF tournament as a black belt. The star of Gracie Humaita has confirmed for the featherweight bracket, the most crowded and contested category among women at Pan 2013, which takes place on March 20 through 24. In an interview with GracieMag.com, Dern spoke of her preparation, the will to fight back with Luiza Monteiro and even commented on the possible duels with teammates. Check it out.

GracieMag: What is your expectation to fight at the Pan as a black belt?

MACKENZIE DERN: I’m feeling good. In my head, the Pan is a warm-up for the Worlds. I still have a lot of training to do until the end of May, but we’ll see! I will try for first place. I’m training in Arizona at my father Megaton’s gym with the guys from here. I didn’t do a camp for the Pan, only my physical training and my regular practice here. If I got where I am today, it was with their help, so I’m always confident when training with them. I also had the opportunity to have my friend and great fighter Angelica Galvão during a weekend here, which helped me a lot!

We will see a Mackenzie more concerned with the scoreboard, now as a black belt?

No, I always want to go for the submission! I have nothing to lose in my first year as a black belt, so if I am supposed to lose, I’d rather lose knowing that I tried everything I could. I’ll try to be one step ahead in fights. I know it still lack a bit for me to be a mature black belt. I’m gaining experience, but I still lack maturity in comparison to all these black belts. What I find amazing is how people still learn a lot after the black belt. I’m evolving, and the crowd can expect good fights.

Irvine is already your home since you fought a lot of Pans there. That helps, right?

I think it will always be; what changes is the head. At black belt, you can’t have a bad head or get stuck in the fight. You need to chase away the fear and apply the best positions. And do not make mistakes! I’m not doing anything different than I usually do. I’m training, correcting, learning, progressing, doing my physical preparation like I did in other belts. My dad always says that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (laughs).

You will try the absolute too, as usual. What do you expect to find in the open with teammates such as Bia Mesquita and Carol Lebre. Will there be a fight?

I’ll always fight! I can easily fight and leave what happens on the mat there. This is my job and I have to be professional. The important thing is getting the points for our team, Gracie Humaita. The ideal outcome for the team would be if we meet only in the final. Bia and Carol are very technical and each has their own game, then they would be tough fights for me. We trained together quite a lot in the past, so we know each other’s games. They both (like many black belts today) are very talented. You can expect great fights, even among us.

How do you assess the featherweight and a possible rematch with Luiza Monteiro?

My category is the fullest in female black belt. There are five girls in it, all tough ones. Now imagine how it will be the draw for the World Championship? Only big names! I see this new meeting with Luiza as a hard and good for the audience. Unlike the Copa Podio, now it will be ten minutes. She is a very cool and hard girl, who also makes beautiful fights. It will always be a pleasure to fight with her.

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