This weekend’s fight at UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier, will mark Maycee Barber’s eighth walk to the Octagon. And she’s only 24 years old. The Colorado native went from only having one amateur fight to making her professional debut on television, and five fights later, she was making her UFC debut against Hannah Cifers in 2018.
Prior to entering the UFC, Barber was 5-0, never suffering defeat or even an injury before. That’s quite a jump to do it all on the biggest stage in the world.
“It’s kind of a big thing to experience that on the biggest platform where you have so many eyes on you, and so many people watching you and so many opinions,” Barber said. “At the same time, that was also a huge blessing because it’s like nothing can faze you anymore. Having such an injury and have such a recovery and having so much time off, I’m truly growing and learning inside the biggest platform in all of fighting.”
Coming into her bout against flyweight veteran Jessica Eye at T-Mobile Arena, Barber is riding a two-fight win streak with victories over Miranda Maverick and, most recently, Montana De La Rosa.
This is only the start of what’s to come for “The Future”.
“I know I’ve said it before, but I’m just getting started. It kind of doesn’t sound like that because I’ve had eight fights in the UFC,” Barber said. “But, to me, I feel like I’m just starting to touch the highest level and getting to the highest level, I’m finally coming into that space where it’s just going to shoot up from here.”
Barber has been very open throughout her last few fights on how important being mentally present and prepared is for her going into a fight. Before her fight against Maverick, Barber made the switch to train at Team Alpha Male, which has made all the difference in her eyes, because the mental aspect of the game is just as important the physical aspect.
“For me, it was a lot of the things that I was letting affect me didn’t need to be affecting me, and also truly realizing what was important and how to make those things the most important things in my life,” Barber said.
After picking up three straight wins to kick off her UFC career, Barber dropped back-to-back fights against Roxanne Modafferi and Alexa Grasso. Following the Modafferi fight, she had to take time off due to an injury. These were things that Barber had never experienced before.
Some would say that experiencing all of these things and finding yourself while being on such a big platform would be difficult to navigate. But, for Barber, it was once again all about perspective.
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“The fact that I started early and I experienced all of that early, I feel like now that I start to get into my prime and the best years of my career, I’ve already gone through that and I’ve already experienced that, so if I get an injury, I know what to do,” Barber said. “Not planning on taking a loss any time soon, but if that comes up, you know what to prepare for. I know that someday if I lose again, it will not be because I underprepared or because of anything I do, it was because the other person was the better fighter.”
She’s taking that mindset into her fight with Eye on Saturday night. At 35 years old, Eye has had 15 fights in the UFC, making her debut back in 2013. Currently, she sits ranked at number 10 in the flyweight rankings and is looking to jump back in the win column after dropping three in a row.
Her ranking is one of the reasons why Barber called her and Joanne Wood out.
“They’ve always been in the top of the rankings and they’re really good fighters but, at the same time, they’re just kind of holding that spot for someone like myself to come in and prove that I can move up,” Barber said.
Although Eye has the experience on paper and inside the Octagon, Barber has been around and practicing mixed martial arts since was three years old, which is something that she feels is valuable to each fight she brings. She mentioned how she’s trained with highly talented fighters, such as Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Michelle Waterson and Holly Holm.
Even though she may not have been old enough, she was in the gym training and sparring constantly, which has led to a strong sense of self belief.
“I’m never going to say, ‘Yeah, she’s the more experienced fighter’, because that’s not something I believe in. She’s a good fighter, but I’m a better fighter.”
UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier took place on Saturday, July 2, 2022 live T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!