National | Māori

Macca Jean on the road to the big time

Amateur MMA fighter Mackenzie Jean Vellenoweth is looking to go pro with a win at Eternal 79, an Australian MMA competition.

Vellenoweth, who is from Te Whakatōhea, wants to be an example for Māori women wanting to enter mixed martial arts.

The 23-year-old, who fights under the name Macca Jean, is a relative newcomer to mixed martial arts but she says she has been in combat sports almost all her life.

“At eight, I started Taekwondo. I did that for about 10 years and just needed a change so I’ve been doing kickboxing and Muay Thai for about four years and in the past two years, I’ve started doing MMA.”

Vellenoweth got the call to compete in Eternal 79, an Australian MMA competition that will be held this weekend on the Gold Coast. Her opponent is Robin O’Neill, who is ranked 42 in Australasia. The match for Vellenoweth may help in her quest to become a professional fighter.

“I’m hoping this will be my last amateur fight and then I can turn pro. Then tqo weeks after that, I have my first pro boxing fight and then a week after that, I have my first pro Muay Thai fight.”

And her words of advice to Māori women wanting to enter MMA? Follow your own path.

“What I would say to any wahine who is looking to get into combat sports, whether it be at the lower levels, like grassroots, having their first fight or their first jiu-jitsu comp, to the higher levels, like really wanting to go somewhere, is to not let anyone else dictate what you do.”