Prior to her recent UFC Vegas 73 fight against Angela Hill, UFC strawweight fighter Mackenzie Dern had been undergoing a legal battle with her estranged husband, Wesley Santos. Dern spoke in detail about the difficulties she had faced in her marriage, and also made allegations of physical abuse against Santos. According to Dern, her relationship had become so fractured that she felt as though she was constantly having to defend herself, even when she hadn’t done anything wrong.
Dern claims that she was even threatened by Santos, who told her that if she did speak out about what was happening, she would risk losing custody of their daughter. Dern adds that it got to the point where she felt completely powerless, and couldn’t defend herself when police were called to their home. However, in a prepared statement released shortly after Dern’s allegations were made public, Santos vehemently denied all of the accusations made against him.
Santos stated that he was disappointed that Dern had chosen to speak so publicly about their personal life, particularly given that they are still in the midst of a legal battle over custody of their daughter. Although he declined to comment further on the matter due to the ongoing legal proceedings, he did make it clear that he considered Dern’s statements to be both false and defamatory. These legal proceedings apparently began a month prior to the UFC Vegas 73 event, when both Dern and Santos made allegations of domestic violence against each other.
Among Dern’s claims were that Santos had repeatedly emotionally and physically abused her, as well as abusing their two dogs, while Santos claimed that Dern herself had been physically violent towards him. Both presented video evidence to support their claims, but the court ultimately ruled that there had been mutual combat between the two, and so awarded joint custody of their daughter. Dern was also ordered to pay a considerable amount of money in spousal and child support, as well as covering Santos’ legal fees.
Despite the difficulties she had been through, Dern insists that she did not let it distract her during her fight against Angela Hill. Indeed, Dern’s aggressive approach to the fight resulted in her dominating Hill over the course of five rounds, a performance that ultimately earned her and Hill $50,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses. Dern stated that, while she did use her anger about her personal life as motivation during the fight, there was “definitely nothing personal”.