UFC 258’s Maycee Barber: “The Countdown Is Still Going”

Las Vegas, NV — It has been over a year since we last had a glimpse of “The Future.” Maycee Barber has been out since a tough loss to veteran Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 246. It’s a fight that ended with Barber (8-1) hobbling, leg badly injured.

The setback was the first of her career. And came with a torn ACL that left her unable to walk unassisted during her recovery.  That wasn’t the only obstacle she had to overcome, either.

“I think there was a lot. I had the injury, and I had surgery, and then we ran into the COVID, and the quarantine, and a lot of different things and a lot of different factors,” she said during the UFC 258 media day in Las Vegas this week. Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press, Barber observed that “For me, just as a fighter and as an athlete, being taken out of the gym and out of training, that’s hard. Because I went from being three years old and training my entire life, being an athlete, being active, to, okay now you’re out, you can’t even walk unless you’re on crutches and you have a brace. You can’t do anything physical for a while.”

Barber was left wondering just what to do with herself. “It was a little bit challenging at first,” she admitted. “But then after that, it was easier, because as I got healthier, there was more physical therapy, so I had more distractions.” Gradually, she worked her way back to training, starting with multiple physical therapy sessions each day.

“Overall the recovery has been good, but obviously we ran into hiccups with quarantine,” she continued. “And it wasn’t just hard on me, it was hard on a lot of people. So I think the added challenge for everybody of trying to figure out what to do with your life and how to adjust to the changes, I think that didn’t just teach me a lot of lessons, but it taught everybody a lot of lessons.”

Barber has become notorious for keeping a countdown clock on her phone, ticking away the hours until the point of her reaching the same age as Jon Jones when he became the UFC’s youngest champion. 23 years, 8 months. Despite the year out of action, there has been no change in her stated goal.

“The countdown is still going. I did get an iPhone though, so now it’s a little bit different, because you can’t have the little thing on your screen. But it’s still there,” she stated. January 18, 2022 is the deadline for Barber to top Jon Jones’ record as youngest UFC champ. She hasn’t taken her eye off the prize.

She has made changes, however. Ahead of Maycee Barber’s return at UFC 258 against Alexa Grasso, she’s with a new team. Of late, Barber has been working with Israel Martinez and Mike Valle in Chicago. Previously, she had trained with Roufusport, out in Milwaukee.

“A lot of it was training partners, bodies, and just wanting to make sure that everything I was doing was 110% for me. Milwaukee was great, it was a good training place. But there was no females,” Barber said, explaining the move. “There’s a few smaller bodies, but a lot of the smaller bodies are Sergio Pettis, Raufeon Stots.” Who, Barber noted, are all fighters that are “in the prime of their career, and the focus has to be on themselves. So if they’re taking time away from their careers to focus on helping me, it’s not both of us training to be the best that we can be. It’s good to grind with them, but at the same time, I need to be able to have all eyes on me, all the training focused on me.”

That is what Barber feels she has now. She’ll have the chance to prove it against Grasso at UFC 258.

Watch the full UFC 258 media day press scrum with Maycee Barber above. The event takes place this Saturday, February 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.