An eighth straight win, sixth straight finish and an Octagon call out of one of the most notable names in the UFC gave Maycee Barber her due attention, but it’s far from the first time a call out landed her on a promotion’s radar.
At 18 years old, Maycee Barber was looking to follow up her first amateur win with something a bit bigger. With literally zero options available in Colorado and the surrounding states, Barber told the promoter she would take care of the problem by going pro and opening up her options.
Opponents still weren’t touching Barber.
The options now were sit and wait or go out and find a fight. Breezing over the regional shows, Barber and her family went straight to Triple-A.
On March 24, 2017 Barber and her father flew to Houston to catch an LFA card and find out what options were available with established talent. Midway through the card was a strawweight bout between Itzel Esquivel and Brandi Narvaez. Esquivel was 1-0 and making her LFA debut, and with the UFC typically only being a few wins away, Esquivel was looking to be the next UFC product if all went well.
Esquivel submitted Narvaez in the first round in front of Barber and her father, giving Barber her trial run at calling for a fight.
“At the time, Itzel was one of the top prospects for LFA,” Barber said. “When she won, I told them, ‘Hey, I’ll fight her in your next show.’ So they gave me the opportunity.”
Three months later, the 0-0 strawweight stepped into the cage with Esquivel with the potential to be made an example of by a rising star in MMA.
Barber saw Esquivel’s submission inside five minutes and raised her a submission inside four minutes when her armbar took the fight out of Esquivel. Barber had called for a fight and followed through on the promise she made to the LFA, breaking on to the pro MMA scene and derailing Esquivel’s hype train.
LFA, trusting Barber only at her word, had found a new star following a sequence of events she wasn’t surprised by at all.
“I can’t speak for the promotion, itself, because I don’t know how they felt,” Barber said. “I can understand anybody coming in and having no footage on them or no experience, but I grew up in the gym and I’ve trained my butt off. Me and my family were fully confident that I could go out and fight any other woman and it’s paid off. I’m on a different level than these other girls and that’s something we’ve believed from the very beginning.”
Barber is very clear that her skill and confidence led her to the UFC, but it didn’t come without a little extra push. Without the right eyeballs, the flashy knockouts and demands for fighters, especially women fighters, go completely under the radar.
“I would say if you’re a female fighter and you want to make it to the UFC then you need to go through a promotion like LFA,” Barber said. “I wouldn’t have asked for any other promotion other than LFA and I couldn’t have gotten with a better promotion before getting to the UFC.”
Barber is over a year removed from her last fight with LFA, and while she’s comfortably burning through opponents and calling for bigger names, the Barber family still feels there work left to be done in the LFA and Maycee’s younger brother, Wyatt, is the next Barber to take the promotion by storm.
“My brother just fought for the LFA, too,” Barber said. He’s an amateur and he’s going through the same process I did. He’s having trouble finding fights. The LFA is a fantastic promotion and I think that a great place for him to fight because he’s got the eyes he needs on him. He hangs with Raufeon Stots, he hangs with Sergio Pettis and I think he’s with a great promotion. He is in a great position to go through to the UFC.”
You can now catch all of Maycee Barber’s fights, LFA live events and watch the rise of Wyatt Barber, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!