Mackenzie Dern withdraws from ADCC to face Ffion Davies at CJI

Former ADCC champion Mackenzie Dern will face current ADCC champion Ffion Davies in a superfight at the inaugural CJI.

A massive superfight between ADCC champions Mackenzie Dern and Ffion Davies is set to go down at the inaugural Craig Jones Invitational (CJI) this August.

In May, Davies announced that she had withdrawn from the 2024 ADCC World Championships. As a returning champion and the woman widely recognized as the sport’s top pound-for-pound competitor, her departure from ADCC marked one of the biggest names in grappling to make the switch to CJI. At the time, no opponent was announced for the multiple-time gi and no-gi world champion.

Dern had been slated to compete in the 55kg division at the 2024 ADCC World Championships, but her match against Davies means she has withdrawn from that event, which will take place on the same weekend as the CJI.

One of the most accomplished BJJ athletes currently competing in MMA, Dern is an IBJJF gi and no-gi world champion, boasting victories over the likes of Tammi MusumeciMichelle Nicolini, and multiple-time ADCC heavyweight champion Gabi Garcia. She earned gold at the 2015 ADCC World Championships.

The 30-year-old has not competed in submission grappling since suffering a first-round exit at the 2017 ADCC World Championships.

Since then, Dern has focused on her MMA career, quickly finding success at the highest levels of the sport. After a 5-0 run in smaller promotions, she joined the UFC in 2018 and reeled off a pair of wins before losing to perennial top contender Amanda Ribas.

Dern has continued to compete among the upper echelon of the UFC’s strawweight division, frequently finding herself knocking on the door of a title shot. She is currently riding a two-fight losing streak but is nonetheless ranked #8 in the strawweight division.

For her part, Davies sits firmly atop the world of submission grappling and will come into this match riding an impressive 15-match winning streak that includes a gold medal run at the 2023 IBJJF Worlds and a double-gold performance at the 2023 IBJJF No-Gi Worlds.

Given Dern’s absence from competitive grappling, she will likely come into this contest as a significant underdog to Davies, who has looked practically unbeatable over the past year.

Stylistically, though, Dern could stand to give the Welsh grappler some problems. Due to her extensive training and experience in MMA, Dern has developed a solid wrestling and takedown game – an area in which Davies typically holds the advantage. And, even if Dern finds herself on bottom against the elite passer in Davies, she possesses a flexible and dynamic guard that could slow down her opponent’s trademark knee-cut passing.

Check out a full and updated list of athletes competing at the inaugural CJI here.

How to watch: The inaugural CJI takes place on August 16-17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will air live on YouTube.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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