For Mackenzie Dern, kindness is weakness. Dern is looking to take one of Yan Xiaonan's limbs home with her at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.
Dern fought Tecia Torres to a razor-thin split decision at UFC 273 that had the judges, media and fans at odds over who was the rightful winner. Dern, a gold medalist at the ADCC World Championships, is the most accomplished submission artist in the women's strawweight division -- and one of UFC's premier grapplers. Reflecting on her run-in with Torres, Dern points to a lack of killer instinct that made the fight more competitive than necessary.
"I can't lose position. When I go to submit, I can't think these girls are going to tap. You don't want to be mean and you don't want to see people get hurt but, at the same time, if she could cut me open or whatever, she would," Dern told CBS Sports. "I'm always thinking 'technique, technique.' If I just rip it off and don't give them a chance to tap, I might pull their shoulder and they may need surgery or something like that. But at the end of the day, we signed up for this. If I give her time to think, I settle for, 'I'll get her on the next one...' No, I need to just do it. Just be mean."
Check out the full interview with Mackenzie Dern below.
Dern sits on the edge of the women's strawweight top five. Dern, a marketable UFC fighter with one million Instagram followers, finds herself on the cusp of title contention if her newfound killer instinct proves fruitful against Yan.
"It's hard. You don't want to do that in training so you don't really train that. My whole life of competing. What is the most that can happen? They tap or they go to sleep. But the top girls, not all of them will tap. You're giving them a chance to give up and if they don't, they might resist. Learning to have that meanness from go-time and not feel bad."