Meet Maycee Barber, the 20-Year-Old UFC Phenom with Superstar Potential

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 10:  Maycee Barber reacts after defeating Hannah Cifers in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Pepsi Center on November 10, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Ready to meet the latest UFC wunderkind? Her name is Maycee Barber, and she is "The Future." The talented 20-year-old fighter has her eyes set on leaving behind a legacy as the youngest and greatest strawweight champion we have seen.

Barber began martial arts at an early age, as many do; unlike others, though, she decided to turn her skills into a professional career of fighting.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole, Barber's father, Bucky, said: "At that point, it was, 'OK, the better we make her as a fighter, the less damage she's going to take.' So we started to travel, and we took her literally all over the United States."

The wealth of training she has gone through has paid off in spades, and it has given her the confidence to recognize her talent and upside. Barber wants to become the youngest champion in UFC history. She has less than three years to accomplish that feat and topple the record of Jon Jones, who was just 23 when he ascended to the top of the sport.

Can she make history?

Barber took one amateur fight when she was 18. She breezed through her opponent in 20 seconds and decided to go pro a few months later after turning 19.

Legacy Fighting Alliance, one of the top feeder promotions to the UFC, took a shot on Barber right away. They brought her into the fold and fostered her development for the first four fights of her professional career.

Her talent and marketability made her a fighter to watch immediately. Everyone noticed there was something special about this young woman. LFA immediately thrust her onto their main cards, and she proved they made the right decision from the outset.

In her first professional bout, Barber needed just 3:52 to submit Itzel Esquivel with an armbar. She would return in less than three months to take a decision against Mallory Martin. Her career was off to a swift 2-0 start, and she would quickly earn two more victories in the LFA when the calendar rolled to 2018.

After moving to 4-0 with three stoppages, the UFC took notice. She earned a spot on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series.

Barber would nab her fifth professional victory with a third-round TKO performance over Jamie Colleen and be awarded an official UFC contract at 20 years of age.

The Colorado native has always eyed gold. Some may call her brash or even arrogant, but her performances showed she was no ordinary talent. She was a well-rounded prospect who was already a threat to most in the division. For her UFC debut, Barber pummeled Hannah Cifers and got a TKO finish in the second round.

Unlike many fighters, Barber didn't just say she was thankful for the opportunity to be in the UFC. She didn't say whatever the matchmakers wanted would be fine for her next fight.

No, the youngster proclaimed that she deserves big fights and to be on big cards. She called out Mackenzie Dern, but her pregnancy would put any bout on the backburner (h/t Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting).

However, the UFC is still giving Barber a prime opportunity as the first fight on the main card this weekend opposite JJ Aldrich.

The 26-year-old has a competent all-around game that will push her younger opponent. If Barber breezes through yet another competitor, much bigger things could be in her immediate future. The big things she wants: a ranking, top-10 opponents and title contention.

Barber is no ordinary prospect for whom it will be a slow development and gradual ascent. She is here to make noise and has already staked her claim as one of the must-see fighters in the strawweight division. A decisive win over Aldrich just moves her one step closer to the greatness she has always seen in herself.

It is time for the rest of the world to catch up and recognize she is "The Future."

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