The young Mackenzie Dern was the big name in the female brown belt division at the 2012 Worlds, which ended this past Sunday. At the Long Beach Pyramid the daughter of Wellington Megaton snapped up two gold medals at featherweight and open weight, and emotions swelled within her.
“It was even more than I’d hoped, because I managed to get the finish in all three of my matches at weight, two by choke and a footlock in the final. After that, I entered the absolute just to get more matches in, without any expectations whatsoever. I just went in to have fun and learn, not thinking about results. I was really pleased that in the absolute I got the finish in all my matches as well, three of them by footlock and one choke,” she said jubilantly in a quick chat with GRACIEMAG.com.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL MADE THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR PERFORMANCE AT THE 2012 WORLDS?
I fight for the finish in all my matches, no matter what championship I’m in, and I feel that’s why I did so well. Especially in the two finals, the important part was to stick to my strategy of always getting myself into the best position, whether on top or on bottom, and thus pave the way to the finish. That was the main thing I got right in the finals.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE FACING YOUR TEAMMATE ANA CAROLINA LEBRE IN THE ABSOLUTE FINAL?
The situation arose when Royler [Gracie] came and told us both that the decision as to whether we faced each other was ours to make, it was up to us. So we discussed it. And we decided that both of us were doing well, had good matches at the Worlds and won our divisions, both made it to the final, and we both deserved the absolute title, right? So we decided we’d face off for real and, regardless of the result, we agreed not to harbor any ill feelings towards each other. We’re professionals and know that a fight is a fight, and anyone could have won it. When we fought, we spent some time on the feet before going to the ground. Carol was in my guard, and I attacked with an omoplata. She postured up to defend and I switched to a footloock, where I got the finish. Carol’s a tough and humble girl, and I was happy to reach the absolute final with her.
HOW DID YOU TRAIN JIU-JITSU IN HAVING A PERFECT WORLDS?
My primary worry was that I’d go into the 2012 Worlds fearing that I’d land in a position I had trouble with. So I focused a lot on preparing to deal with any position. I corrected my weaknesses with the help of my father, boyfriend and team. I worked a lot on my weaknesses, did lots of physical conditioning work and lots of specific training for this Worlds.
WHAT’S THE MAIN LESSON YOU LEARNED AT THIS TOURNAMENT?
I feel I learned that you have to be confident in your game, always. Sometimes in training you may have run into trouble or a hard time with some position, but all you have to do is keep your head on straight when competing. That’s vital in doing well in competition.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU DID DIFFERENTLY THIS WORLDS?
What I sought to do differently this Worlds was go for more foot attacks, which you’re allowed to do at brown belt. I’m working on the position a lot in training, and thank God it worked out, because four of the submissions in my seven matches were footlocks.
ANY POINTERS ON YOUR ARSENAL OF FOOT ATTACKS?
When you go for a footlock, pay a lot of attention to your foot as well, because a lot of the time your opponent can defend by attacking you right back. When you attack a foot, hide yours. Then get a firm grip on the top of the foot with your first hand, and with your second hand grab hold of your wrist to get the figure-four on the foot. Then start squeezing out the footlock, pushing the foot towards the back of their thigh, and turn your body sideways to get as much leverage as possible and get the finish. It’s simple.
ANY FINAL LESSONS FOR OUR JIU-JITSU-PRACTITIONER READERS WHO DREAM OF ONE DAY BECOMING CHAMPIONS, AND FOR GETTING TO BROWN BELT ONE DAY?
The best way to pull off new moves at championships is to train, train and train. Be confident in what you’re training, because if you’re managing to do new positions well in training, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll be able to do them at championships.