Dana White’s Contender Series has proven to be a steppingstone for rising MMA stars, giving up-and-comers the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of UFC President Dana White. Typically given one opportunity to prove themselves, fighters on DWCS can earn a UFC contract if their performance is on par with current UFC talent.
In this series, we showcase DWCS grads who have started to rise the ranks since earning their UFC contract on the show.
Maycee Barber – Flyweight
Back in December 2018, then-strawweight Maycee Barber was given a shot at a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series against Jamie Colleen. Anticipated as a striker vs grappler bout, Barber excelled in all facets of martial arts, beating Colleen to the punch, controlling the clinch and securing takedowns.
Her final takedown of the night, with just over a minute left in the third round, saw Barber land ruthless elbows that opened a massive cut on Colleen’s nose. A few unanswered elbows later, the fight was stopped, giving Barber the TKO victory.
The stoppage was enough to impress White, earning her a UFC contract at only 20 years old.
Eager to start making a name for herself inside a new promotion, Barber’s UFC debut came less than three months later against Hannah Cifers at UFC Fight Night: The Korean Zombie vs Rodríguez.
In a near mirror image of her first bout, Barber dictated the fight exactly how she wanted, but performed even better. Landing various kicks and shining in the clinch, Barber’s best work still came on the ground, when she eventually had top control against Cifers in the second round.
From here, it didn’t take long for the referee to stop the fight. Landing her patented elbows from top position, Barber started opening cuts on Cifers’ face. With no answer to the ground-and-pound, the fight was eventually stopped after complete domination and control from the still 20-year-old.
And that’s what’s most compelling about “The Future” and the start to her UFC career. Despite being so young, the way Barber consistently controls her opponents and executes her gameplan makes it seem like she’s a decade-long veteran who’s done this before.
In her next bout, Barber made her flyweight debut against JJ Aldrich. When you think she’d be put up against bigger and stronger opponents, Barber showed that preserving the extra 10 pounds during her weight cuts helps her perform at her full potential.
Despite a first round where she was dropped for the first time in her career, Barber was able to recover and finish the fight on the feet with powerful shots in the clinch in the second round. Landing punches, elbows and knees, the diversity of strikes from inside the clinch was impressive, but devastating for Aldrich, who eventually crumbled under Barber’s tenacious attack.
The power continued to prove itself in her following bout against Gillian Robertson, which earned Barber her quickest finish in her UFC career, as she defeated Robertson by TKO three minutes into the first round.
All the pieces to becoming a top contender were there: unwavering confidence, constant growth, dominant performances and an undefeated record. But the first exchange in the second round against Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 246: McGregor vs Cerrone led her career to a screeching halt.
Stepping awkwardly after receiving a jab, Barber suffered a torn ACL. Battling through the pain, Barber fought all three rounds but was unable to keep her perfect record intact. The injury caused a 13-month layoff for “The Future” and her return didn’t go as planned.
Facing Alexa Grasso, Barber fell behind early in the fight and was unable to find her footing until the third round. Dealing with grief and an unclear path at her future in the promotion, Barber looked west to Team Alpha Male, which helped her rediscover her passion for the sport.
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Since her move to Team Alpha Male, Barber has been back on a tear through the flyweight division. Her first challenge was the rising star Miranda Maverick, who was putting herself on notice by dominating opponents early in her career, like Barber. But “The Future” proved that she was back and ready to reach the top.
Two fights later, with wins over Montana De La Rosa and Jessica Eye, Barber is back on a three-fight winning streak.
Barber has soared up the ranks, faced a career-altering injury and is now in the flyweight Top 10 after her win over Eye at UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier, all by 24 years old. Barber can still become the youngest champion in women’s flyweight history, chasing inaugural champion Nicco Montaño who earned the belt just before she turned 29.
Barber has proven to be one of the best UFC contenders that made her first mark on DWCS. Amassing a 6-2 record since, Barber continues to rise the ranks and is one of the closest DWCS grads to reaching UFC gold.