Is Mackenzie Dern the next big thing in women's MMA? Former UFC lightweight champion and current Bellator contender Benson Henderson believes so.
In fact, if you ask Henderson, she is on her way to MMA immortality.
"She will be bigger than Ronda Rousey before Ronda Rousey lost," Henderson said Monday on The MMA Hour, via MMA Fighting. "She's going to be huge. She's going to be big. She has an excellent work ethic."
Dern, 23 years old, is the #1-ranked International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation women's fighter in the world. She's a Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and an Abu Dhabi, Pan American and European Jiu-Jitsu champion.
And ... the greatest thing since sliced bread, according to Henderson.
"Go look her up ... She has an amazing work ethic. She's an amazing athlete. She definitely needs to work on her MMA skills, but her ground game in phenomenal. Any women on the planet goes to the ground with Mackenzie and Mackenzie is going to tap her, or dominate her like she did her first opponent."
Dern is 1-0 in MMA so far, winning her first fight by unanimous decision.
"Her jiu-jitsu is so good fundamentally that it transitions well," Henderson added. "It's not like some of the jiu-jitsu people who transition over into MMA, it's all about flash and fancy leglocks, this and that, and then they end up getting punched in the face. You have more than a good handful of guys trying to segue over into MMA, but their jiu-jitsu game is so particular that they don't really transition very well into MMA. They don't really have the sort of success that they had in jiu-jitsu. They don't have that success in MMA because their fundamentals aren't very strong.
"Mackenzie's game is great for MMA because her fundamentals are so strong. Because her fundamentals are so strong, it allows her to do some fancier stuff on the ground, and then because her fundamentals are so strong, it allows her to do well in MMA also. I think her working her butt off, staying grounded in the MMA world, getting better, growing, she's super young, she's going to be a big huge star. In 10 years you'll see her in movies and stuff and she's going to do great. She's going to be awesome."
That's quite the hype to live up to. Dern hopes to make her debut in the UFC in 2017, but there will likely be no dream match between her and Rousey. Dern fights at 115 pounds, Rousey at 135.