Mackenzie Dern is down to fight for the UFC interim strawweight title if it happens.
Current UFC strawweight queen Carla Esparza was expected to match up against Zhang Weili for UFC 281 in Abu Dhabi. However, a wrench was thrown in the promotion’s plans when Esparza recently revealed that she’s injured and will be unable to accept an outing against Weili in October.
Esparza reclaimed the promotional gold in a controversial split decision win over Rose Namajunas at UFC 274. The inaugural 115 lbs champion said that she expects to be sidelined till November or December.
Mackenzie Dern eyes interim title fight against Zhang Weili
ADCC and no-gi BJJ world champion Mackenzie Dern has expressed interest in getting an interim title shot. Although the UFC has not officially declared plans to create an interim belt it wouldn’t be totally out of character. The former world’s No. 1 ranked IBJJF competitor is coming off a win over Tecia Torres. She secured five wins in her last six.
Speaking to MMA Junkie on Thursday, Dern shared her idea of competing for the interim title against Zhang Weili.
“If they do have an interim title I would like to be in there. Fight Zhang Weili or whoever it will be. I’m definitely interested in that. I’m ready. I’m talking with Mick (Maynard).
“I even sent a message to Dana (White). I’m like, ‘Hey Dana, I’m ready whoever it is, I’m ready.’ My manager Tim (Simpson) from Paradigm. A lot of names have been thrown out: Yan Xiaonan, Rose, Zhang Weili has been thrown out in the past, so I’m not sure how serious they are about that. But definitely I would be ready for any of those girls.”
Dern is confident she’s ready for a five-rounder
Dern stated that she is prepared to be in full training mode. She kept up with her training following her last bout and believes she can get ready for a five-round fight.
“For me, I’ve been training since my last fight so I’m ready. It can be August, October – hopefully not too long. I want to fight pretty soon and keep the wins coming, keep my training on point. I think if I could get that interim title if that doesn’t fight happen would be pleasure. It would be awesome.”
She acknowledged the danger Weili presents but remains confident her BJJ can challenge the former champion.
“Zhang Weili continues to show she can throw crazy stuff at you and you need to be prepared. I hope to face her eventually. I think that would be a great fight. I don’t think she’s ever fought someone with my jiu-jitsu caliber, but definitely it would be a great. We’ll see what happens.”
Dern shared about being offered different names and a potential interim title bout could be on the cards but a lot depends on Esparza and when she’s able to return.