Top UFC strawweight prospect Mackenzie Dern, who is seven months pregnant and expected to have a child in May, says she still intends to fight later this year.
"I'm excited for this opportunity to maybe even make history [as the first mom to win a UFC title]," Dern said on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show. "I want to fight this year, hopefully. This is going to give me even more motivation now."
Dern, 25, an undefeated Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, is largely considered one of the rising stars of mixed martial arts. She has won twice in the UFC, most recently by first-round rear naked choke against Amanda Cooper last May. The daughter of BJJ legend Wellington "Megaton" Dias, Dern (7-0) is a former world-champion grappler.
"I always knew I wanted to be a mom and not retire," Dern said. "I wanted to have my kid watch me fight. I think that's because I grew up watching my dad compete and I'm so inspired by him. I always knew I wanted that for me, too."
Dern's boyfriend, Wesley Santos, is a professional surfer. She told Helwani she would be happy if her child is interested in pursuing a similar career.
"Hopefully the baby wants to do one of those, but hopefully fighting," Dern told Helwani. "I know what you need to do to have success. I had my dad teach me that and all of the ups and downs and battles I went through. ... I can make it an easier path for them to have success in their career."
An exact timetable for her return to the Octagon is not set. She said she will have to see how she feels after the pregnancy. That said, she can't wait for what the future holds.
"I don't really know what to expect," Dern said. "I'm most excited to get back in the cage, fighting for the baby and my family. I'm doing it for something more than just me, and that's exciting."