LAS VEGAS – Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern claimed her second win of 2020 as she submitted Canada’s Randa Markos via armbar in their main card matchup at UFC on ESPN+ 36.

Dern’s win means she has rebounded from her 2019 defeat to Amanda Ribas with back-to-back first-round submission victories as the 27-year-old looks to move toward title contendership in the UFC’s 115-pound division.

Here are the highlights from the post-fight press conference as Dern (9-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) chatted to reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage at the UFC Apex following her win.

Dern’s initial reaction to defeating Markos

Elite grappler Dern was able to showcase her grappling skills once again as she claimed the sixth submission victory of her career. But, while she admitted she was happy to claim the win, she said he’s keen to show the world how much she’s improved as an all-round mixed martial artist.

“It feels so happy,” she said. “Of course, I wanted to show my striking, I’m saying that to everyone. Coach (Jason) Parillo has helping me so much with my striking.

“I think I’m tied for the most submissions in the strawweights. I’m just No. 15, so just think how many submissions I’m gonna get, so I think it really shows how dangerous I am on the ground, and how much I can improve, too, so I can be so dangerous as a complete fighter.”

Dern on her surprise at Markos diving into her guard

The crucial moment of the bout came when Dern slipped on a kick attempt and fell to the floor. Markos (10-9-1 MMA, 6-8 UFC) elected to dive into her guard, rather than step back and force the action back into the stand-up realm. The Canadian’s decision to take the action into Dern’s wheelhouse proved ill-judged, as Dern locked up an armbar to seal the win at the 3:44 mark of the opening round.

Dern admitted she was surprised, and happy, to see Markos follow her to the mat.

“For sure, I thought it was amazing, you know, but I was shocked. I definitely think most of the people would be like, ‘Hey, stand up,’ and have space. But I like fighting at the Apex, it’s a smaller octagon, so I was so surprised. Especially when I saw she came in my guard, almost to a triangle. I had the triangle, it wasn’t so tight, but it was a triangle, and I didn’t see her really stand up or try to defend, so I was like, ‘Man, the submission’s definitely gonna come.’ I had so many options.

“I definitely was thinking, ‘Man, I know she has so much heart and she’s so experienced.’ Most of her fights are three rounds, to a judges’ decision. She doesn’t give up or anything like that. She’s a wrestler, so I know she has grappling – her grappling’s not that bad. So I didn’t think I was going to lose it, but I thought, ‘Man, is she going to let it dislocate?’ or something. Because I wasn’t going to let it go, definitely, so I was going to keep going.”

Dern on missing out on a UFC first

While Dern was able to show her grappling prowess against Markos, the Brazilian admitted that she was looking to lock up a submission that nobody had ever seen inside the octagon, her “chokoplata.”

“I really wanted to get the chokoplata – which is the crucifix with the omaplata – because it’s never happened before in the UFC,” she explained. “So I was trying to do that. I threw my leg over her head, but she stayed laying down, so I kept laying down and went to the armbar.”

Dern on her position in the UFC strawweight division

Dern said her performances mean she should be considered a contender in the UFC’s 115-pound division, but the Brazilian also said that she’s still growing and evolving as a fighter, and hopes to prove her worth as a legitimate threat to the title.

“I definitely think I’m a contender to get the belt, but I have so much to get better and so much to evolve and I’m so excited to try these new things and be so complete as a fighter,” she said. “So I think any person they give me, I’m gonna show something new. Of course, if they go into my guard I think we’ll see jiu-jitsu again, but I think any other type of fighter that will do something different, I will be prepared to show how good I am getting.

“I’m sad about my loss. Of course, it was so beautiful on my record with that zero there. But I think everyone can tell how I’m a different fighter. I’m making weight easy all the time, I’m focused. I don’t know if they follow my social media, but I’m definitely good energy and not so much ‘Hey! Party girl!’ any more. I’m taking this serious and I hope people can be like, ‘OK, she’s here to make some noise and be a problem in the division.’”

UFC on ESPN+ 36: Best Photos

In pictures: Mackenzie Dern