From taekwondo to boxing to kickboxing, New Zealand’s Macca Jean transitions to MMA next weekend

20-year-old Mackenzie Jean Vellenoweth is set to make her MMA debut next weekend.

The New Zealander, better known as “Macca Jean”, will take on Sally Asiata-Kaokao at Born To Fight 9 for the WKN MMA NZ title in Auckland next Saturday.

Vellenoweth’s debut brings many eyes with it due to her established background on the New Zealand combat sports scene. Despite her youth, Vellenoweth has been training for 11 years; since she started Taekwondo at age 9 in her hometown of Opotiki.

She had a total of 50 Taekwondo fights. The original goal had been to make the Olympic Games, however after finding the path to get there increasingly political and underfunded, she decided at the end of 2018 to switch up her training up with some boxing.

“I ended up loving it,” Vellenoweth told Fight News Australia.

She accrued a 5-0 boxing record, as well as a desire to keep challenging herself.

“After about a year, I decided to make the move [to kickboxing/Muay Thai].”

In 2020, the year the world shutdown for COVID-19, Vellenoweth took eight kickboxing fights – five of those within two months. To date, she holds a 9-0 kickboxing record, 6-1 Muay Thai record, and has claimed the 63.5kg IKBF, 62kg IKBF and 62kg ISKA titles. But still, she’s eager to keep learning.

“When I did Taekwondo it was like, ‘Oh, I’ll do boxing because it’s not so limited’. And then I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll just try kickboxing’, and I ended up just wanting more, just wanting to learn more,” Vellenoweth described of her wish to pursue MMA.

“I quite like the violence, too,” she added casually . “I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just exciting.”

Training out of The Combat Centre in Auckland, where she virtually lives (and even has a bed for napping), Vellenoweth says the goal this year is to make her MMA debut, get more experience and more titles.

She’ll cross the debut off next weekend when she set to fight 3 x 3-minute rounds against Asiata-Kaokao, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt from Oliver MMA. Asiata-Kaokao has had one amateur MMA bout, in which she defeated Elisa Marneth-Rust via knockout in the first round.

Eager to learn and eager to keep busy, Vellenoweth still isn’t limiting herself. While MMA is her end goal, she’ll take any fight she can get for now. In fact, she’s already been booked for a Muay Thai fight on November 17. That bout will be against Kaitlyn Tucker on Vendetta for the AMTA lightweight title. Getting fights has become a problem already in her short career; a dilemma she puts down to the lack of female competitors in New Zealand. However, she’s firmly open to travelling for fights when border restrictions are lifted.

Vellenoweth vs. Asiata-Kaokao features on Born To Fight 9 at YMCA Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, April 24. Headlining the event is a WKN international light heavyweight title fight between Pane Haraki and Dhcamad Armstrong.

 

I’m a Curtin University writing graduate born and bred in beautiful Perth, WA. My interest in combat sports started with an invitation to a Ladies’ BJJ class. It wasn’t long before I started to follow MMA religiously. Although I love training, I’m definitely more writer than fighter. I wanted to tell the incredible stories involved, so I got involved. I’m really passionate about covering the Australian scene and being a (teeny, tiny) part of growing it.