No wonder there is all this noise around young Mackenzie Dern (Gracie Humaita). She was world champion of Jiu-Jitsu from blue to brown belt, and she is already among the top 10 black belts on the IBJJF world ranking — even without having made her debut in the World Championship yet.
Daughter of Wellington “Megaton”Dias, and advised by stepmother and champion of Jiu-Jitsu Luka Dias, the rising young athlete trains hard and controls her anxiety to compete in the featherweight division at the 2013 World Championship, which starts on May 29 and goes on until June 2.
At the Pan, Mackenzie also tried the open class, but was defeated by the current absolute queen. What has she learned from the defeat? Is she preparing something new? She told us.
GRACIEMAG: How are you preparing your body and mind for this remarkable debut at the World Championship as a black belt?
MACKENZIE DERN: I’m excited. My resume at World Championships is nice, but at the same time I know the difference of fighting in other belts and now among the elite. Winning or losing, one thing I know: I have a lot to learn from this Worlds. As a black belt, you have to get there very prepared, and that’s what I’ll do. The goal is to leave with another world title. I know that the black belt division at the Worlds is not Disneyland. I’ll keep training hard to face the challenges in Long Beach. The first part was in Arizona and now we go to San Jose to finish training at Caio Terra’s gym.
What detail do you emphasize during these last days of training?
The cardio part is vital because the fights can last ten minutes, and at high intensity. I am also very focused on maintaining positions in the last minute of the fight. It’s a mistake I already made before and am trying to fix.
What were the results of your run in the Pan and the WPJJC in Abu Dhabi, as a black belt?
Certainly, I wanted to have won there, but analyzing it, I wasn’t bad. Winning these tournaments is a goal for 2014. In Pan and WPJJC I got to the final, with less than six months of having my black belt. The girls who beat me were actually better. I can’t complain. A bit of craftiness is still missing. To achieve it, I need to test myself more and control the adrenaline and remain calm.
What stats of your career are you most proud of?
I’ve been fighting at the Worlds for six years, in my division and in the open class, and there are only a total of six fights which I didn’t finish. I also think that the fact of already being among the top ten in the world in my first year as a black belt is cool, too.
When you faced Gabi Garcia in the 2013 Pans, you didn’t resist and tapped out. Can you dream of a surprise victory in the open class at the Worlds?
I learned that there is quite a difference in seeing her fight and going there and feeling her game. Everyone talks, but until you go there and fight, you can’t judge anyone. I learn many things from all my opponents. With Gabi, I took the lesson of not to be afraid. We can’t confuse respect with fear. You need to get into the fight confident against anyone because, at worst, you learn from it. It’s not a problem to tap out, no one gets hurt and it only gives the person more desire to train harder and try to be better. Now, I’m not thinking about her. After all, to surprise Gabi, I have to surprise many fighters before her. I can only think about the absolute world champion title if I get through the other fights. I think it would be great if Gabi decided to go on a vacation between May 29 and June 2, but I’m not counting on it (laughs).