UFC women’s flyweight contender Maycee Barber believes there’s only two names in the current 125-pound landscape who are capable of dethroning Valentina Shevchenko.
Barber has always been confident in her title credentials, even initially expressing a desire to become the promotion’s youngest-ever champion. While her push to the belt was stalled with back-to-back losses to the now-retired Roxanne Modafferi and top-five contender Alexa Grasso, she’s since returned to form.
After finding her way back to a win streak with victories over fellow young prospect Miranda Maverick and Montana De La Rosa, Barber made it three in a row earlier this month at UFC 276, securing an ascent to #10 in the rankings with a unanimous decision success versus former title challenger Jessica Eye.
Having re-railed her hype train in recent times, Barber firmly believes she’s capable of reaching the top of the division and unseating dominant flyweight queen Shevchenko.
But “The Future” also believes there’s one other contender capable of that feat…
Barber: ‘It’s Gonna Take Something Special To Beat Shevchenko’
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Barber assessed the reign of Shevchenko and the possible future champions in her division.
As well as herself, Barber named one other possible challenge to Shevchenko — Brazilian contender Taila Santos. While she also suggested that the arrival of former bantamweight champion Miesha Tate will be intriguing, she stopped short of backing “Cupcake” to dethrone “Bullet.”
“I think the only person that would beat her is Taila Santos. Honestly, I haven’t seen anyone else emerge or be that great,” Barber said. “Obviously, it would be really great to see how Miesha Tate does. And of course, I’m rooting for her because I’ve been a fan ever since the beginning, and she’s one of the legends of the sport. She’s one of the originals. So it’d be really cool to see her, not only have been fighting, but then also come back and be a mom and become champion.
“But it’s gonna take someone truly special and I honestly felt like Taila could’ve done it,” Barber added. “And if not, then I see myself doing it.”
Barber’s backing of Santos certainly doesn’t come as a surprise after her comments following the Brazilian’s failed title challenge at UFC 275 last month. In Singapore, the 29-year-old gave Shevchenko the toughest test of her reign to date, even winning the fight in the eyes of many.
After the result, which saw Shevchenko fall on the right side of a split decision, Barber made her thoughts known on the fight, suggesting that Santos had “exposed” the Kyrgyzstani titleholder.
“I truly believe that I could beat the champion. She’s being exposed more and more with every fight that she has, and we’re gonna continue to expose that,” Barber said during the UFC 276 post-fight press conference. “Her holes are continuing to be exposed. Taila Santos, had she not got that head clash thing and her eye be swollen, I honestly think she would be the champion right now.”
Do you agree with Maycee Barber? Are she and Taila Santos the only two flyweights capable of beating Valentina Shevchenko?