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Rose Namajunas recalls crazy story involving the father of Maycee Barber

LockerRoom Team
Calendar Icon18 June 2024

When Rose Namajunas faces Maycee Barber in the main event of UFC on ESPN 59 on July 13 at Ball Arena in Denver (ESPN, ESPN+), it will be more than just a fight. There’s a personal history between them from their time training in Colorado.

Namajunas (12-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) and Barber (14-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) are set to battle in a five-round women’s flyweight bout, with significant implications for the title picture. Namajunas recalled their past interactions with MMA Junkie, saying, “I don’t know exactly how old she was when we met – probably around 18 or 17. We did some jiu-jitsu together. I think we grappled a bit. There were a few times we were supposed to spar, but something came up for her. We didn’t train extensively together, but she was always around.”

While Namajunas’s memory of their training sessions is vague, other memories are clearer. Both fighters were once in the strawweight division: Namajunas was a two-time champion, and Barber was an emerging talent. Barber moved up to flyweight due to weight issues, where she has since won six consecutive fights. Namajunas also moved up, looking to rejuvenate her career.

Barber, ranked No. 9 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie women’s flyweight rankings, has always seemed interested in fighting Namajunas, but the timing never felt right until now.

“What I remember vividly is her beating some of my training partners and making it seem like she was coming for me, saying she was knocking off my training partners and I’m next,” Namajunas said. “Before, it was like she was coming for me. Now, I’m coming for her because I’m moving up and targeting her ranking. The tables have turned.”

Barber’s confidence and outspoken nature are well known, and Namajunas respects that as long as it’s genuine. However, she has reservations about Barber’s father and coach, Bucky Barber.

“I like her confidence as long as it’s true and genuine,” Namajunas said. “I respect fighters who believe in themselves. But her dad was disrespectful back then. He was yelling in my face after a fight, saying, ‘We’re coming for you.’ I thought it was uncalled for. If my corner starts attacking my opponent, then the opponent’s corner has the right to respond. It should be between the fighters. Parents might get emotional, but they need to control themselves.”

ALSO READ | Rose Namajunas plans to become two-division champion in the UFC

Despite the past tensions, Namajunas remains focused on the fight, determined to perform at her best against Barber. She knows it won’t be an easy match.


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