Around the time Maycee Barber was experience nap time and playing with the other kids in Kindergarten, Roxanne Modafferi was setting out on trailblazing MMA career that launched in Tokyo, Japan in the Smackgirl promotion. The year was 2003 (by contrast, Barber was 5 years old), and Modafferi won her professional debut in under two minutes via an arm-bar.
Fast forward to 2020. ‘The Happy Warrior’ had gone on to win gold in multiple regional promotions, win a single-night tournament in Japan (getting the better of Marloes Coenen in the final, no less), and challenge for gold in Strikeforce, Invicta FC, and the UFC.
Barber, meanwhile, was billed as “The Future” — and she very well may be. At 21, her goal to become the UFC’s youngest champion certainly feels possible. But a test against a longtime veteran of the sport is exactly what Barber, undefeated entering UFC 246, needed.
The pair clashed Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, serving as the featured fight of the televised preliminary card.
Barber opened the fight with a jab, working from the southpaw stance. Modafferi connected with a right hand a little after that, moving in and out of range. Another right landed for the veteran. A third, which Barber countered, but Roxy took Barber down off the exchange, landing on top in half guard. On bottom, Barber tried to force a reversal with brute strength. When that failed, she simply held on, but Modafferi was able to move to side control briefly. Barber was able to maneuver her back to half guard — but she’d spent a couple minutes on her back. Barber was then able to lock in a guillotine from the bottom, squeezing hard. Impressive strength, but Modafferi pulled free. Roxy then looked to be working for an arm-triangle choke, then moved to side control and mount in the final seconds on the round. Barber was able to reverse at the last moment, but it really didn’t matter as the horn sounded.
Round two saw Roxanne Modafferi drop with a jab! In due course, she moved to mount, and began dropping elbows. Some big elbows landed, but Barber was able to reverse. She was cut and in guard, but on top at least. Modafferi utilized a closed guard, but Barber was able to drop a big elbow of her own. It was raining blood, however, and Maycee Barber was the source. Modafferi reversed and began the ground n’ pound! Barber rolled to her front, giving up her back. She was bloodied and battered. Barber tried for a kimura from the bottom, but Modafferi was not in danger, and headed to the third firmly in control.
Between rounds a doctor checked on Barber’s leg, which she had clutched on the way down in the second. He was overheard saying “she has a partial ACL tear” but that “she’s fine.” How that was diagnosed is anyone’s guess. But Maycee Barber was a wounded animal in round three. Her leg was an obvious issue. Roxy landed early, then got Barber down, which was probably a relief for Barber, who no longer needed to stand on an injured knee. Barber would reverse, but Modafferi escaped up, and Barber just couldn’t follow. Modafferi wound up with Barber in a headlock, but opted to get on top with Barber on her back again. On the feet or on the ground, however, Modafferi was dominant, going the distance for a clear-cut win. The only asterisk will be the Barber injury, but Modafferi was winning the bout prior to that.
— UFC (@ufc) January 19, 2020
In the battle of youth versus experience, it was experience coming out on top Saturday. A quality win for Modafferi, whose second UFC run has proven a lot of doubters wrong.
Official Decision: Roxanne Modafferi def. Maycee Barber by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)