Fixing the Future: Maycee’s Mission

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Lionel Shriver once said, “Expectations are dangerous when they are both too high and unformed.” For example, every star has a life span. If it shines brightly too much, it dies out like any typical star. With the nickname “The Future,” Maycee Barber had been touted as a star by the UFC.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 17: (L-R) Maycee Barber celebrates her victory over Jamie Colleen in their women’s strawweight fight during Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series at the TUF Gym on July 17, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWTNCS LLC)

She got the marketing/promotional nod from the big wigs and set out on her new mission: Become the youngest UFC women’s champion. But, like any rookie stepping into the big stage, she was in for a rude awakening. Unfortunately, the Future will have to analyze the present to recapture the path to her future.

First Path of the Future

One of the brightest women’s prospects to come from Dana White’s Contender Series, Maycee Barber had so much of the spotlight on her. With that spotlight came high expectations. But, she boldly accepted the challenge. Barber debuted in the UFC and blazed forward with four straight wins and finishes. Her next big step would be on the promising return of Conor McGregor to MMA on UFC 246 against Roxanne Modafferi.

DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 10: (R-L) Maycee Barber punches 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)

Coming in as a 9-1 favorite, Maycee Barber seemed to be setting the stage for a coming-out party on 2020’s biggest card, possibly. But alas, MMA is a cruel mistress. Unfortunately, an accidental knee injury in the 2nd round paired w/ the doctor’s negligence to stop the fight after diagnosing Barber with a “torn ACL” before the start of the 3rd; Barber would lose the battle unanimously through the judges and now would be recovering from ACL surgery.

With the heavy mantle of the undefeated lifted from her shoulders, Maycee Barber tried to continue down the path of being the youngest woman’s UFC champion. Unfortunately, that means facing the cream of the crop; enter Alexa Grasso.

Unfortunately, Maycee Barber couldn’t seem to grasp the level of boxing that Grasso was displaying that night. As Barber tasted bitter defeat again, the MMA world started throwing shades of doubt. Was the promising young fighter pushed too early, like Paige Vanzant and Sage Northcutt?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 18: Maycee Barber is checked by the doctor in her flyweight fight during the UFC 246 event at T-Mobile Arena on January 18, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The Mission of Fixing

Barber’s decision to go to Milwaukee to train full-time with Duke Roufus at Roufusport, which also houses former champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and former top 5 lightweight Paul Felder, was a crucial component in her initial progress of MMA. But, she chose to move camps after losing her second bout in a row to Alexa Grasso at UFC 258, and she relocated to California to train with Team Alpha Male.

Maycee had previously trained at several gyms, including Factory X, JacksonWink, and Mike Valle’s in Chicago. However, because of COVID-19 restrictions among fighters, she switched to Team Alpha Male for her next fight against Miranda “Fear The” Maverick. Maverick and Barber had shared a similar path and was also a rising prospect contender.

Even though the fight had no close fight-ending sequences, Miranda seemed to have the upper hand with the grappling and striking going into the third round. This time around, in the third round, Maycee appeared to flip the table on Miranda and win the round, but the result was already evident in everyone’s mind.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 24: Maycee Barber reacts after her split-decision victory over Miranda Maverick in their flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 24, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

When Bruce Buffer read Sal D’Amato’s scorecard as 29-28 Barber, the MMA World exploded with confusion and dismay. Former UFC Double Champ & current UFC color commentator Daniel Cormier couldn’t even hide his shocked disappointment as he re-joined his co-workers on the desk post-octagon interview with Barber.

“Dom, you know, I don’t agree. I got the decision in my ear, and uh, I don’t agree. I thought Miranda Maverick won. Um. I would imagine the guy that was watching the fight earlier was the one that judges *laughs*. Because it was pretty clear to me that Miranda Maverick won rounds 1 & 2… For Miranda Maverick, she was on the wrong side of uh, what I feel is some bad judging”.

Daniel Cormier reacts post-octagon interview with winner of Barber/Maverick to Dominick Cruz and Brendan Fitzgerald at the commentary desk.

Maycee Makes Her Future

The best AND worst thing about the past is you can’t change it. So either let it haunt you or use it as the foundation and building blocks to your future success. Maycee got the win on paper, but she has a lot to make up for in the public eye. Even if two rounds didn’t go her way in the public’s opinion, she won the third and final round indefinitely.

Maycee Barber must focus on the success of the third round and have it translate for all three rounds in her next fight. She’s also the same age as the journalist writing this article, so time is definitely on her side. However, Barber has to do it before the prospect turns 25 to achieve the historic feat still. Even if she didn’t, that still wouldn’t stop her from being a champion regardless.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 24: (R-L) Maycee Barber punches Miranda Maverick in their flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 24, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Sometimes it’s more about the fighting rather than the achievements. So is it worth it to sacrifice it all to achieve being the youngest UFC female champion? Or should Maycee plan her future out and be the greatest female champion in UFC history?

Voltaire really did put it in the best way possible: “You have no control over the hand that life deals you, but how you play that hand is entirely up to you.”

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