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Mackenzie Dern’s Legacy FC Debut Indication of Women’s MMA Growth

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On Friday July 22, multi-time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion Mackenzie Dern makes her professional mixed martial arts debut. Facing Kenia Rosas at Legacy Fighting Championship 58, Dern has been considered one of the most exciting future stars of MMA since announcing that she would be making the transition to the sport in October 2015.

Growing up on the mats, the daughter of legendary grappler Wellington Dias, Dern has blossomed into a BJJ legend in her own right. Her grappling credentials are unmatched by any woman in MMA. Still only 23-years-old, the hype exists for good reason, justified excitement created by thoughts of how far she might be able to go in the sport.

A win over Kenia Rosas, herself making her professional MMA debut with only a little experience on the amateur circuit behind her, is the expected outcome in Lake Charles on Friday night. Should the first hurdle be negotiated successfully, tougher tests will eventually follow, but Dern’s path through the shark infested strawweight talent pool will tell us as much about the state of women’s MMA as it does her own potential.

While the UFC began promoting Ronda Rousey in November 2012 following Zuffa’s acquisition of Strikeforce, developing first one, then two women’s divisions under the largest promotional banner in the sport took time.

Opportunities for women in MMA had been nothing like those presented to the men before the UFC threw their hat into the promotional ring. Fights were hard to come by, significant paydays even harder. The talent pools were shallow and the oft used quantifier was that women’s MMA was ten years behind men’s in terms of development and depth.

As far as the UFC went, the days of single discipline male standouts carving their way to the top quickly before rounding out their skills appeared to have been left in the past. For women that was not the case, and it was Rousey herself, the fighter who forced the UFC’s hand in opening up to the possibility of promoting female fights, whose career served as the proof.

Elite level judo combined with intense aggression and a determination to chase finishes was enough to propel Rousey from professional debutante to Strikeforce bantamweight champion in only five fights spanning twelve months.

Rousey defeated Miesha Tate for that belt in March 2012 with no demonstrable striking ability. Just a scrappy balls-to-the-wall style and immaculate judo technique. That would continue to be enough to secure Rousey seven straight title defences as the Strikeforce belt morphed into a UFC one.

In the process, the Olympic judoka’s ability forced those around her to raise their games too. Opportunities for the likes of Miesha Tate, Julianna Pena, Amanda Nunes and Holly Holm grew, as did the money they were able to make from the sport, along with the realisation that the level of training required to be the best was growing too. The chasing pack eventually caught the seemingly unbeatable champion, with Holm defeating her for the UFC women’s bantamweight title in November 2015.

Rousey’s success in drawing in fans was also a contributing factor for the UFC in adding a second women’s division in 2014. The addition of the 115 pound strawweight weight class has been a success, with current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk quickly becoming one of the most beloved champions in MMA by the sport’s hardcore fanbase.

Already this year we have seen outstanding women’s title fight after outstanding women’s title fight. Jennifer Maia vs Vanessa Porto and Angela Hill vs Livia Renata Souza in Invicta FC, Angela Lee vs Mei Yamaguchi in ONE Championship, and Holly Holm vs Miesha Tate and Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Claudia Gadelha in the UFC. All have been fought at such a high level that the, sadly, previously attached asterisk “for a women’s fight” no longer applies. All were Just great MMA fights. Period.

If women’s MMA has developed as much as those signs suggest, Dern will not be afforded the same luxuries that Rousey enjoyed before her. The strawweight division at which Dern will compete is widely considered to be the most talent rich in women’s MMA. Simply being on another level on the ground probably won’t be enough on its own.

Training with the likes of Lauren Murphy, Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger and Benson Henderson at the MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona, Dern has the opportunity to develop every aspect of her MMA game to the required level. That she will need to if she is to make it to the very top, for that she has one woman to thank. Ronda Rousey.

Legacy FC 58 takes place Friday July 22 at the Golden Nugget Casino Hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is headlined by a light-heavyweight title bout between Robert Drysdale and Ryan Spann.

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Interviews

Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Announcement

Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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Announcement

*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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