Mackenzie Dern details the trauma she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband that led to her divorce.
UFC strawweight Mackenzie Dern is one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster. The BJJ standout decided to make the move to mixed martial arts back in 2016. She was already in the limelight for excelling in jiu-jitsu before she even came to the UFC. Upon her arrival in the UFC, she skyrocketed to stardom when she began to use her BJJ skills in the Octagon. Now it has been five years and 11 fights since she made her promotional debut and she is fresh off a headlining spot against Angela Hill.
Dern put in a solid five rounds against Hill and came out with the unanimous decision victory. The win has put her in the number seven spot on the rankings, but the big story surrounding her win was the road she had to take to get there. During fight week Dern spoke candidly about her recent divorce. She left her former husband, Wesley Santos, last year after repeated abuse.
Mackenzie Dern details enduring physical abuse by her ex-husband
Before the bout against Hill at UFC Vegas 73, Dern spoke about the difficult time she had going through a divorce while training for a fight. Now after the event, she spoke to Ariel Helwani of The MMA Hour about what she felt during that time and why she felt as if she needed to leave.
“We get put into situations where people want to try and get a reaction out of you and have you do something just to be able to, like, sue you, or try and take it to the police or try and do something like that, and especially someone that you live with,” she said. “That’s not healthy, you know. And it’s crazy for me because I always want to represent someone who can stand up for themselves and can defend themselves for all the women out there, you know, so for me to see myself in that situation was really hard.”
Dern explained that she was physically abused by her ex-husband. She spoke about feeling as if she was unable to fight back due to her profession and being famous. She did not want her former spouse to be able to call the police on her for hitting him. She detailed the heartbreaking situation to Helwani.
“I wasn’t even able to defend myself,” she said. “I couldn’t defend myself, like, police were getting called to the house. It was just getting out of control, and going through that in front of your daughter, you don’t want your daughter to witness that. So the moment that I felt like I couldn’t even, I wasn’t safe, and that’s why I left, because I wasn’t safe. And it’s crazy, because, like, I feel like if I could defend myself, I would. Sure I would be able to you know, but it’s more than just me hitting someone because they’re trying to hit me or they’re trying to hold me down or they’re trying to do things you know, the fact that I couldn’t do it because they would take me to the police.”
Dern is now out of that situation and moving on with her UFC career. She is back in the win column and has now won two of her last three. She is already looking to get back in the cage and has called for a fight against former UFC champion Rose Namajunas.