I recently got back in touch to talk to Mackenzie about her experiences in Abu Dhabi and you can see this at the end of the interview, once again many thanks to the lovely and gracious Miss Dern who as ever is a pleasure to talk to.
I sat down to talk to the daughter of BJJ legends Wellington “Megaton” Dias http://www.teammegaton.net and step daughter of Luciana Dias herself a munidal finalist and black belt, the charming and friendly Mackenzie Dern (center below) herself a top class and dominant BJJ competitor.
Tell me a little about your past and present, and your BJJ journey?
Well, I first started learning jiu-jitsu when I was three years old. I started competing when I was 7 years old and I competed in the kids division until I was 14. I traveled a lot to Brazil and San Diego and was then able to start competing in the adult division. Fortunately, Arizona, Brazil and San Diego are where I am able to do a lot of my competition training. Right now, I am currently in Arizona but the last couple of weeks I have been traveling a lot with my dad, doing seminars and competitions throughout Europe.
You have an extremely impressive competition record for one so young, what are you highlights?
Yes, thankfully I was able to start jiu-jitsu at a young age and with the help of my instructors and teammates, good results are starting to show! My main titles are 4x World champion, 3x No gi World champion, 2x American National champion, 2x European champion, Rio International champion and South American champion.
Did you feel you had to go into BJJ with such an inspirational father as a figure?
My dad definitely is the reason for me being in Jiu-Jitsu, but he never forced me to train or compete and because of this my passion for Jiu-Jitsu developed on its own. However, because he is such a well know BJJ fighter I do feel like when I compete I am representing him so I try to represent him and his jiu-jitsu as best as I can.
How do you feel the world of BJJ has changed for female BJJ fighters?
BJJ for females has evolved so much throughout the years. We have gone from purple, brown, and black belt together and now we have enough girls to just have brown and black fighting together. Unfortunately, I think girls are still far from being treated like the guys, but slowly we are getting more and more credit for our accomplishments.
Are you held back as an attractive female with a famous father do you feel you have to fight harder for recognition?
No, I think it helped me develop myself within the jiu-jitsu community, but after a while I was recognized for my wins and not for being Megaton’s daughter. I think being an attractive female competitor and having a famous father I have a lot of attention so I try my best to be a good role model and help get more and more girls into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
What are your inspirations in life and in BJJ?
My dad is my inspiration not just as an BJJ fighter or instructor but as a person as well. Not only did he help me develop my commitment to jiu-jitsu that I have today, but he taught me to try and be a good person on and off the mats. Leticia Ribeiro, also has been a huge inspiration for me throughout my BJJ journey. She dedicates herself to jiu-jitsu for women and I hope one day I can make an impact in jiu-jitsu like she has.
What are your future plans within the world of BJJ?
My future plans in Jiu-Jitsu are to compete as much as possible. I hope to compete at least every two months so I stay on a good competition rhythm. I hope to accompany my dad on many seminars so I can get some experience. When I arrive in Arizona, in the beginning of February I will be assisting an all girls open mat and I am really excited about that! Also coming up, I will be competing in the Abu Dhabi World Pro trials in Canada and then I have the Pan Ams and Worlds planned. Then I will most likely stay in Brazil for a while.
Have you considered MMA?
No, MMA is not something I plan on doing in the future. I know a lot of people who go from BJJ to MMA, and are very successful, but I just see my future in BJJ.
What aspirations and dreams are there for Mackenzie Dern?
I hope to one day win all the main competitions at black belt. I would love to have an academy with a strong women’s team. Lastly, I would really like to have made an impact in Jiu-Jitsu and stay as involved with the Jiu-Jitsu community for as long as possible!
Can tell me about the comp in Canada Adu Dhabi trials how it went and what it means to you?
The trials went great! I had a bye my first round the second round was against a black belt from Chicago. I won that match by points 5 x 0 so that was good! Then i was in the finals against a purple belt that she had already beat me once and i had already beat her once so it was good to fight again! Luckily i won that fight by points too, i think it was 4 x 0 but it was sooooo cold! Lol
And the meaning of this to me is really big! Just that I am going to be able to take part in a tournament competing with some of the best of the best is going to be a great learning experience and a privelage! I am going to train my hardest and get ready for this exciting event!
Anything else you would like to say?
I would like to thank my family, friends, and teammates who help me get to where I am today. My fans for all the support. My sponsors ATAMA Kimonos, Versatile Fighter, and Fight Soap for helping me out, and thank you Stewart for the questions
Brilliant Thanks so much I will look forward to talking to you after the ADCC see how you, your boyfriend (Augusto Tanquinho Mendes) and your step mother and father get on (first time this has ever happened in an ADCC)
ADCC Update May 2011
Man, the Abu Dhabi World Pro was a really great experience and I definetly hope I can make it back next year! I won my first fight by an armbar against a a purple from Abu Dhabi. Then I lost my second fight by armbar against Michelle Nicolini. It was a fun match and I was happy that I did better than my last fight against at the Abu Dhabi trials in Lisbon.
My dad lost to Bruno Frazatto, a tough Atos guy, after his first fight did not show up and my stepmom lost to Monica Silva who is also a really tough girl! My boyfriend did really good in Abu Dhabi and was able to leave with a gold medal! He fought Ryan Hall is first match. Then beat Ary Farias, Guilherme Mendes, Ed Ramos, and in the finals Rafael Mendes. They were all good and tough fights for him and he was happy to be able to compete against such good competitors! I am so happy for him and, of course, for my dad and stepmom who go out there and fight so good against all the top competitors!
In a whole the tournament was a lot of fun! It was great meeting so many people from all around the world. There were so many good fights that it was hard to pick one at a time to watch. I had to keep looking at all the different mat areas the whole time! lol I think all the competitors did a great job!