The Severe Spotlight: Maycee Barber

Growth at the infant stages are both the most pivotal, but also the most important to a fighter’s long-term career. Maycee Barber at 24, is in that exact position in her career; the moments of evolution, of self-experimentation and expression, of making mistakes with the view to fix them between fights, of building a complete skillset.

Andrea Lee offers Barber a view into what is to come. Lee at 34 is in the epoch of incremental growth, of refinement of the toolset that she has already acquired. On paper this is a typical archetype of matchup to make, a young prospect building back from a couple of losses, against a veteran perennial contender to act as a yardstick of progression and standing.

Barber starts the first round well, she has triangular footwork patterns, taking wide bounces out before retreating and then coming into striking range, she can do this from both stances but its more pronounced in her favoured southpaw. Andrea Lee with a strong Muay Thai background early see’s this as a chance for her to check that movement with kicks; Barber implements the first element of her gameplan which is to catch those kicks with either an upward or a downward grip, and use that catch to off balance Lee, and land forward shots.

An element of her game that was already established was her jab, and she uses that to good effect inside two minutes; working her outside angles and landing the right jab behind the shoulder of Lee, that’s a good indicator of how well she is winning the angle battle early. The point about infancy, and making her mistakes rings true as she bounds into the pocket without a sturdy intention, and Lee wraps her in double overs, landing an outside trip. In her previous 9 UFC performances, she had been taken down 4 times in total. Lee landed her first of five takedowns here.

As we continue to profess, a takedown is merely a change in position and does not score. Lee does a good job of establishing side control but lands no damage. Barber is making the right choices defensively, primarily taking a 2-on-1 grip of the crossface arm, which in MMA, is the same arm you will strike with. Colloquially its deemed that the bottom position is a bad position to be in, and there is evidence to support that. But damage is king in modern MMA, and Barber moving to a bottom crucifix is a fantastic display of creativity, pinning both of Lee’s arms and allowed her to land the most significant strikes of the round with elbows from the bottom.

Andrea Lee works her way to the back after escaping the crucifix but Barber does a fantastic job of keeping her elbows inside and turning in, rising back to the standing position. Barber closes the round with a clean 1-2.

The second round was a round of adjustment for both women. Exchanges of kicks comprised the first round; with Lee picking up the pace in the second minute. Barber works her way inside for a takedown of her own, but Lee does a great job of riding it and getting to her feet right away. One intangible of fighters is their spirit, and their ego. Lee asked some questions of Barbers ego as she lands a high kick that bloodies the nose of the Wisconsin native. Barber answers by driving a left hand through the jaw of Lee that causes waves of momentum to change, and Lee begin to stumble under the erosive pressures.  Follow up shots forces Lee into a defensive shot reaction, and grounds Barber with it.

Barber again, takes no damage in the primary ground exchange and does a good job of threatening the kimura to get feet to hips and push Lee away. An exchange of upkicks from Barber and leg/axe kicks from Lee ends with Lee entering back into the guard of Barber and landing 4-5 shots.

The third and final round is the closest, and one Barber will want to go back and study. Early in the third she does a great job of crowding Lee, landing a left and a nice bodykick. But finds herself again in defensive grappling positions as she is taken down and has Lee on her back quickly. Lee did a poor job of consolidating hooks, and Barber escapes, but that is a reoccurring problem that she has been taken down, and her back has been taken in 2/3 rounds.

Barber responds with her own takedown, looking to work from a leg drag, Lee turtles and Barber doesn’t establish back control, she scrambles for the back bodylock and fights for chest to back connection, but cannot establish a solid position and finds Lee throwing her to the mat for her efforts. The fifth and final takedown lands for Lee with 45 seconds left. Very little damage landed until the closing seconds of the round, with Barber being defensively aware and sound.

A good win, against a very solid veteran test for Barber, this is a prospect in the perfect moments in her career, she is growing and she is able to display that growth, but more importantly she is being put in positions and making mistakes that she can go back and grow more from, 24 years of age is a baby in MMA. There’s a lot more to come from “The Future”.

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