Mackenzie Dern has been going through quite the fight outside the Octagon for the past year.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) wizard and top-ranked Strawweight contender got back in the win column at UFC Vegas 73, defeating Angela Hill via a dominant unanimous decision. Unfortunately for Dern, she’s been in the process of completing her divorce since her fight before Hill, where she lost a majority decision to Yan Xiaonan in Oct. 2022 (watch highlights).
Dern recently shared some dark details surrounding her legal matters, alleging that her estranged husband, Wesley Santos, physically abused her.
“I feel like I’ve been having to defend myself this whole time for things that I never thought I’d have to defend myself for,” Dern told The MMA Hour. “I was in a situation in my relationship where I couldn’t even defend myself, because I was getting, like, threatened that if I did anything, I’d be talking to the police and I could lose my daughter.
“So, I stayed in my relationship because I believed in the family, and I believe that that’s what God wanted and stuff,” she continued. “But there’s a certain point where you try, try, and try, and things don’t change, and it just keeps getting worse and worse. And then, like I was saying, I wasn’t even able to defend myself. … Like, 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.”
Per MMA Fighting, court documents reveal that the pair were embroiled in a custody battle over their 3-year-old daughter, Moa, one month ago. Santos has denied Dern’s allegations, claiming he was the one being abused and sharing video and picture evidence of himself with a bloody nose from an alleged punch. Santos added accusations of Dern beating Moa in a video she sent him.
“I never physically attacked Mackenzie, she is an MMA fighter,” Santos said in a court filing. “I would never even try to get physical with her. I would have no chance.
“I am disappointed that Mackenzie chose to make public statements about our divorce, especially since it involves the custody of our beautiful daughter, Moa,” he told MMA Fighting. “Because we are in the middle of legal proceedings, I cannot comment on anything at this time, except to say that Mackenzie’s statements are false and defamatory.”
Other accusations from Dern involve abusing her two dogs, denying access to her sponsorship money through their Brazilian bank account, making unauthorized purchases on her credit card, forging a lease renewal on their apartment, and “slamming a door on her leg as he allegedly dragged her into their house during a fight.”
Dern and Santos are awaiting a ruling next month on Dern’s filed restraining order. As of right now, Dern has been demanded to pay $10,000 of Santos’ court fees along with paying $4,006 per month in spousal and child support.