‘I knew I had to fight through it’: Maycee Barber opens up on torn ACL suffered at UFC 246

Maycee Barber will go under the knife next week.

The UFC flyweight prospect is expected to have surgery next Monday to repair a torn left ACL. Barber (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) sustained the knee injury during her decision loss to Roxanne Modafferi a little over a week ago at UFC 246. The defeat to Modafferi marked the first professional loss for the 21-year-old Barber.

During a Monday appearance on “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show,” Barber opened up about suffering the injury and her first defeat.

“I did it in the first round,” Barber said recalling the moment she injured her knee. “It didn’t hurt really bad until the second round, but I did it in the first movement I did. I, like, stepped on her foot in the first round, and I over shifted and overstepped, and it popped. It was like, ‘Oh, no. That’s not good.’ But it was not also terrible.

“I knew I had to fight through it, so I just kept going. By the second round, I was sitting down, and when I stood up from the stool, I was like, ‘This is not good.’ But I didn’t tell anybody in the first round. I didn’t tell my coaches, because I was trying to hide it. I was trying to keep it from them, because I didn’t think it was that bad. As I stood up from the first to second round, it was like, ‘I can’t. This is really bad.’”

It was clear Barber was impaired during the fight. The Milwaukee native believes the unfortunate injury played a role in her performance.

“I understand there has to be a winner and a loser,” Barber said. “Unfortunately, (UFC 246) was not my night. Regardless of the leg, obviously, I truly feel it plays a factor in my performance.

“I know that, and I’d love to go back and show that to everyone else, show what I know to everyone else. But at the end of the day you can’t control the things that happen, but you can control what you choose to let them do in that situation. I wanted to push through and show that I’m not just ‘I need to have a perfect day to fight.’ It was a very (imperfect) day, and I wanted to fight and did.”

Days removed from the event, Barber’s father posted on Instagram a similar thought, but maybe with a different tone. Many took the post as Barber’s father discrediting Modafferi and attributing the result solely to the injury.

Barber’s father caught a lot of heat on social media for his comments. Maycee expected nothing different from her father and doesn’t pay attention to the critics.

“It doesn’t bother me, because every dad is going to have a certain reaction, and that’s the way he’s going to react,” Barber said. “I’m his daughter, and I went out there, and I fought. He wants to justify, and he wants to be like, ‘No, she didn’t lose because she had this leg thing.’ Which, true or not, which it is, that’s his view, that’s him trying to protect and prove.

“He’s always going to be on my side. He’s going to fight to the death, and I do appreciate that. You can’t expect to be in this life and not have thick skin, so what people say about or what people think, yeah, it sucks, but I don’t read stuff about it. I don’t read things unless other people send them to me. I try not to pay attention to them because everybody has their own opinion, and everybody is entitled to their own opinion.”

A pivotal moment occurred early in Round 2 when Maycee Barber clutched her knee after falling to the canvas. (USA TODAY Sports)

Barber expects to be out of action for mine months, rehabbing from the surgery she plans on getting next week. She’s made clear many times she wants to be youngest champion in the history of the UFC – a record currently held by Jon Jones, who became champ at age 23.

Despite the major injury setback, Barber still thinks she can make her dream come true.

“By the time I’m done with the surgery and this rehab, I will be 22 still, so I’ll have a little over a year to achieve that,” Barber said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to do that. I truly believe that I’m on the track to do that, and this is just a mountain that I was presented, and I have to climb it.

“It’s going to make me better in the gym, and it’s going to make me stronger and more mentally prepared for when I do reach the title fight. So I’m looking forward to it.”

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