LAS VEGAS – Mackenzie Dern’s ultimate goal is to be UFC champion, but she still feels she needs to get a bit more experience before getting the opportunity.
The UFC strawweight contender returns to the cage this Saturday, as she’s set to take on Yan Xiaonan in the main event of UFC Fight Night 211. It’s a big fight for the division and one that can have big consequences.
As one of the more popular names in the weight class, some think Dern (12-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) could be knocking on the door of a title shot if victorious over Xiaonan (15-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC). However, the 29-year-old doesn’t want to fight for UFC gold, at least not yet.
“I think if I have a dominant performance, (a former champion) would be a next good step for me,” Dern told reporters at the UFC Fight Night 211 media day on Wednesday. “I don’t want to fight exactly for the belt, I mean, I’m not going to be the person that says, ‘No. No. I don’t want a title fight.’ If they offer it, maybe we’ll take it. But for me, if I had a choice, I would like to do one more fight against a former champion – Rose Namajunas, Jessica Andrade, maybe even the loser of Zhang Weili and Carla Esparza.
“I think that would be a good test for me. And if I beat a former champion, then I can fight the real champion.”
Carla Esparza announces UFC 281 title fight vs. Zhang Weili
Joanna Jedrzejczyk: ‘Strong’ Zhang Weili will knock out Carla Esparza in first round
Dern is coming off a split decision over Tecia Torres back in April at UFC 273. Prior to that, she had lost to top contender Marina Rodriguez in a Fight of the Night main event last October.
Dern, who’s 5-1 in her past six fights, believes Xiaonan is the perfect next step to put her MMA evolution to a test.
“She’s got high volume, good technique, strong punches, she hits in the right spots, but at the same time, as a grappler, that’s good because it’s a little easier to take them down,” Dern said. “… I’m at a really good moment in my career to fight someone like that, (someone) that’s going to try to put on the pressure on me, because I’m finally starting to settle in on my striking.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 211.
Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie