Mackenzie Dern showed up to compete at the Samurai Pro Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament last Sunday and had a great time in the process. The 18-year-old purple belt from Gracie Humaita put on a show as she worked through her competition quickly and effectively.
One of Dern’s competitors, Gracie Barra Glendale’s Amanda Grummon, competed against Dern and afterwards said, “How does she do it? She makes it look so effortless!” Dern says she grew up on the mats, rolling with her dad, Wellington “Megaton” Dias. “I was three years old,” she says, “My dad took me to the academy every day. Even just sitting there, I heard all the talk, ‘Pass the guard!’ I learned by listening.”
Dern experienced her first tournament when she was six years old. “I grew up with Jiu-Jitsu,” she says, “I didn’t all of a sudden start training one day.” Dern says these days she has the fundamentals down. “I’m just shaping my game for myself.”
At the Samurai Pro, Dern had two matches. There were only three competitors in her division, so they held a round-robin type of match up. In her first match, she competed against Grummon and won with a lapel choke.
In her second and final match against Kristen Davidson, she won with a brabo choke to take gold. “It was a fun experience,” she says, “I see these girls at all the tournaments and they are tough. I’m always in tournaments. They’re a lot of fun. I just wish they had money for women. That would be good!”
Dern says competing in the Samurai Pro was good competition and preparation for the upcoming Worlds. “I’m doing Leticia’s (Ribeiro) training camp in San Diego before the Worlds,” she says, “I hope to see a lot of girls there from all over the world. That will prepare me for the Worlds. Then I’m off to see my boyfriend in Brazil!”