Mackenzie Dern, without absolute class challenge, is hot favourite to win 55kg gold in Abu Dhabi

Mackenzie Dern became an overnight sensation after she stunned Gabrielle Garcia in the women’s absolute division final in the 2015 Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

Mackenzie Dern speaks to the media ahead of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Mona Al Marzooqi / The National .
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ABU DHABI // Mackenzie Dern became an overnight sensation after she stunned Gabrielle Garcia in the women’s absolute division final in the 2015 Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

It was a real David v Goliath contest, with the American having won an early penalty point and managing to fend off the Brazilian, who was taller and more than 20 kilograms heavier than Dern.

The following year Dern lost out to the Brazilian Tayane Araujo, who completed the women’s double in the World Pro by winning her +70kg weight and the absolute class.

However, there will be no repeat this year with the absolute division scrapped and all fighters competing in their own weight categories.

Dern is set to compete in her 55kg division, which she has won the past two years and is the hot favourite to make three in-a-row.

“The absolute division was one of the highlights of the championship,” Dern said. “It provided an opportunity for the best fighters in every weight category to pit their skills against each other.

“The organisers have decided to scrap this event under the new rules and we don’t have a say on it.”

Dern has been mixing her jiu-jitsu with mixed martial arts over the past 12 months but is confident of retaining her 55kg title.

“With my MMA commitments, I must divide my time between the two,” said Dern, who has a 2-1 record in the discipline.

Dern says the competition is getting harder every year with lots of girls coming into jiu-jitsu.

“This could well be my last full season in jiu-jitsu,” she said. “I may only choose to compete in few championship like the World Pro.”

Dern suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Beatriz Mesquita of Brazil in her most recent competition in Rio de Janeiro.

“I was returning after two months [out] in that competition but I’m in a better shape now,” said Dern, who will avoid a re-match with Mesquita as she competes in the 62kg weight.

apassela@thenational.ae

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