A 21-year-old American who started training like a 'female Spartan' at age 3 is determined to become the youngest champion the UFC has ever seen
- Maycee Barber is a 21-year-old American who has vowed to break a UFC record.
- A "female Spartan," Barber wants to become a UFC champion faster than Jon Jones, when he won the UFC light heavyweight belt aged 23.
- An MMA expert told Business Insider that he expects Barber to keep winning this year and be rewarded with a title shot within nine months.
- "UFC loves records and stats … if they see the opportunity and think the time is right, they'll put her in," combat sports columnist Gareth A. Davies said.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
LAS VEGAS - Meet Maycee Barber, a 21-year-old American who has trained like a "female Spartan" since she was three and is now determined to become the youngest champion the UFC has ever seen.
Barber competes at the UFC 246 event in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 18.
A No.9 ranked women's flyweight, Barber can soar through the division should she continue her hot streak, extending a record which currently reads eight wins (five by knockout, two by submission, and one by decision), unbeaten.
Standing in the opposite corner this weekend is the veteran Roxanne Modafferi. Barber hopes to beat Modafferi, take a few more fights this year, challenge for the UFC flyweight championship - and win it, breaking Jon Jones' current record of becoming the UFC's youngest champion at 23 years, eight months, and one day.
"I do see myself as a record-breaker," Barber confidently told Business Insider at the UFC Apex in the Enterprise district of Las Vegas on Thursday. "I am going to break that record."
Barber has grown up studying martial arts. She learned karate from the age of three to 19, practised jiu jitsu since 2010, and developed her striking skillset in recent years.
Going back to Sparta, those boys were chosen at seven, but this girl chose martial arts at three.
This dedication to combat sports has seen her attract "female Spartan" status from The Telegraph's combat sports columnist Gareth A. Davies.
"She has literally been training like a female Spartan all her life," Davies told us. "Going back to Sparta, those boys were chosen at seven, but this girl chose martial arts at three. Rolling on the mat at three years old," he said.
"It says a lot about her that she was physically very hardened early on. I think that's the evolution in women's fighting … we're seeing more knockouts, submissions, and finishes because the women are getting technically better but also harder. They're punching harder, growing up harder, and are genuinely evolving," Davies said.
Barber possesses qualities that even her opponent Modafferi enjoys, but the 39-fight veteran told Business Insider that she will be inflicting a first loss onto the youngster.
"She has the confidence of a young, undefeated fighter, "Modafferi said. "It's good to have lofty goals. She talks about working hard and not being handed anything. I like that. But I'm absolutely going to stand in her way, giving her first loss. That's just the way it's going to happen."
Modafferi told us that she's going to unleash newly-learned weapons onto Barber, but the way Barber talks, she'll be unconcerned.
Barber, who cites Ronda Rousey, Demetrious Johnson, and Conor McGregor as inspirations, wants to defeat Modafferi in style so she can book another fight, stay active, win that, then campaign for her title shot.
"I'm not expecting a title shot after this fight … I'm expecting to fight two to three more times, and then hopefully fight for the title at the end of this year," Barber said. "I want to stay active, for sure."
Davies believes if the UFC spots an opportunity, that title shot could come sooner.
"UFC loves records and stats and it would not surprise me at all, if she gets the spectacular victory over Roxanne, she will get a title shot before nine months is out. If they see the opportunity and think the time is right, they'll put her in."