UFC star Mackenzie Dern claims she was physically abused in previous relationship: "I wasn't even able to defend myself"

UFC women
UFC women's strawweight star Mackenzie Dern

Mackenzie Dern has claimed that she suffered physical and mental abuse in her previous relationship. A multi-time BJJ world champion and top-tier UFC women's strawweight fighter, Dern has lately opened up about the alleged abuse inflicted upon her.

In the latest edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Mackenzie Dern suggested that her estranged husband, professional surfer Wesley Santos, deliberately put her into certain situations to elicit a reaction out of her, so he could sue her or call the police.

She insinuated that Santos took undue advantage of the fact that she's a professional MMA fighter and attempted to paint her as the aggressor. Dern implied that she wasn't able to properly defend herself, since she feared the police would see her as the perpetrator of abuse.

The UFC fighter emphasized that living with someone like that isn't healthy. Additionally, Dern indicated that as a woman, she's always wanted to represent someone who can stand up for themselves and defend themselves. She noted that considering the same, seeing herself in such an abusive situation was hard.

Watch Dern's interview below:


Furthermore, Mackenzie Dern was asked whether she was physically abused in the relationship, to which she replied that she did suffer from physical abuse in it. When questioned if that's why she decided to leave the relationship, Dern simply asserted, "Yeah."

Moreover, she pointed out that family was the most important thing to her and that she believed God wanted her to try to keep her family together. The Brazilian-American MMA stalwart added, however, that their relationship kept worsening despite her attempts to salvage it. She recalled that it reached a point where she had to leave. Dern stated:

"I wasn't even able to defend myself. I couldn't defend myself. Police were getting called to the house. It was just getting out of control. And going through that in front of your daughter, you don't want your daughter to witness that."
"So, the moment that I felt like I couldn't even -- I wasn't safe -- and that's why I left. Because I wasn't even safe. And it's crazy because I feel like if I could defend myself, I would be able to. But it's more than just me hitting someone because they're trying to hit me, or they're trying to hold me down, or they're trying to do things. The fact that I couldn't do it because they would take me to the police was where I felt like I was stuck."

Check out Dern's comments in the video below:

Mackenzie Dern eyes former UFC champion for next fight

Mackenzie Dern returned to the win column in her most recent octagon appearance, dominantly defeating Angela Hill via unanimous decision in their UFC Vegas 73 headlining matchup on May 20, 2023.

Speaking to Ariel Helwani, the 30-year-old UFC athlete appeared to suggest that her divorce proceedings are still underway. As per Mackenzie Dern, she left her former partner around May of 2022. Nevertheless, Dern explained that she's focused on her career and caring for their daughter Moa.

While Mackenzie Dern's next fight hasn't been officially announced yet, she reiterated that she'd be interested in facing former UFC women's strawweight champion Rose Namajunas next.

Besides, during her post-fight octagon interview at UFC Vegas 73, she named Namajunas and former opponent Yan Xiaonan as potential opponents for her next bout. Dern said:

"I don't know what's Rose up to. But if she's interested in fighting, I'd like to fight Rose. Maybe, revenge with Yan [Xiaonan]" She added, "Rose, Yan; someone in the top-10, top-5."

Watch Dern's assessment below:

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Edited by Dave
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