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Maycee Barber sets sights on Alexa Grasso rematch regardless of UFC title status: ‘I want that back’

SAN ANTONIO – Seemingly every fighter guns for the fighter holding gold in their division, but Maycee Barber wants UFC women’s flyweight champion Alexa Grasso for a different reason.

Grasso won a competitive unanimous decision against Barber (11-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in 2021 at UFC 258. Even more than two years later as she approaches Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 43, Barber still speaks with internally directed frustration when she talks about the February 2021 loss.

“I do want that fight back with Alexa, but like I said, it’s whether she’s the champ or not,” Barber told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “If she has the belt when it comes time, then I want her. If Valentina is back to being the champ, then I want her. But at the end of the day, I still have my journey to the top and right now I think I’m currently No. 13, so I’ve got to work my way up again.”

Barber has lost twice in her professional MMA career with both defeats in the UFC. Although Barber has a loss to Roxanne Modafferi on her resume, a defeat which she tacks up to a major, in-fight knee injury, that doesn’t sting the same as a defeat without a health catastrophe.

“I came off of a year layoff and an ACL surgery,” Barber said. “I lost the first round, but I won the third round. I feel like if that was a five-round fight, I would’ve won that fight. I think there’s a lot of people that could agree. But at the same time, I lost that fight. Obviously I want that back.

“… I do (think the injury was the biggest factor). I do. The one with with Alexa Grasso, I’m not going to take anything away from her, like I said. She’s a great fighter. That was not a fight that I was ready for at the time. I took it, because I’m not going to turn down a fight. At the same time, the fight with Roxanne, I tore my ACL in the first round of the fight, and I went all three rounds, but I lost. It was really hard. I fought off one leg. That one, I never really was super bitter about that one. The fight with Alexa, that was the one where I was like, ‘Dang. I lost.’ That was a feeling of that. But I was proud of the fact that I won that third round. That is what made me want it back.”

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Grasso defeated long-reigning champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 285 on March 4 – a massive upset. While it’s unclear what the division’s next title fight will officially be, many think Shevchenko is a shoe-in for a rematch. Regardless, Barber thinks a win Saturday over Andrea Lee (13-6 MMA, 5-4 UFC) could have large implications for her trajectory.

“I’m No. 13 (in the official UFC rankings),” Barber said. “It doesn’t matter to me. I’m getting paid, and I have a great contract. So I’m happy with working my way back up. At the same time, I think it’s also about the noise you make in the division and how you push yourself and how you project yourself that’s really going to push you. And also the performances, you look at Erin Blanchfield, she fought one fight, and now she’s right up there. So good job on her. But that’s what I mean. One fight can put you so far forward. So it’s really a matter of the right fight and the next fight after this finish.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 43.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie