Gillian Robertson is never afraid of a challenge.
With only five fights on her record, she didn’t hesitate to join “The Ultimate Fighter” season 26, which crowned the first-ever UFC women’s flyweight champion.
Robertson didn’t come away with the title, but that hasn’t slowed her down at all. She’s already amassed five fights inside the Octagon while compiling a 4-1 record including three submissions, including her first TKO victory in her most recent outing.
It was before her most recent fight when Robertson was talking to her head coach Din Thomas about potential opponents she could call out following a win. That’s when she saw Maycee Barber’s name staring back at her. She was reminded the 21-year-old prospect had just recently claimed a slew of notable flyweights had turned down a fight with her. So she did something about it.
“I threw out Maycee’s name,” Robertson said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I was like why not Maycee Barber? I saw her talking a lot of smack about Paige [VanZant] and Mackenzie Dern and Montana De La Rosa, saying they were all denying fights.
“She’s making it sound like nobody wants to fight her— let’s take that fight. Din was like, ‘Let’s wait on that one,’ and then two days after my Sarah Frota fight, he texts me and says ‘We confirmed it’. It was definitely what I wanted.”
Barber has received a lot of attention after she joined the roster by way of UFC president Dana White’s Contender Series. Through her first two fights, she’s lived up to the billing.
First, she dispatched Hannah Cifers, and then put away veteran J.J. Aldrich by TKO in back-to-back fights. The wins moved her record to 7-0 while she proclaimed it was only a matter of time before she got to the championship.
Obviously, Robertson disagrees.
“I feel like she’s a huge hype train,” Robertson said. “She definitely has a lot of potential in the future. She’s young; she’s 7-0 right now. But I’m definitely going to be a little bump in the road for her. I definitely feel like I have the ability to finish her. My skill set is dangerous to her.
“Not to knock J.J. or Hannah [Cifers] but they’re both predominantly strikers more than grapplers. She’s never really faced a really strong grappler. I feel like that’s going to be a game changer. Stylistically, I’m a bad match up for her.”
Robertson’s confidence in advance of UFC on ESPN 6 this Friday doesn’t mean she discountsBarber as some kind of bum who doesn’t belong in the cage with her. In fact, she believes Barber has a very bright future ahead of her.
But this might just be one time where Barber has bitten off more than she can chew.
“I feel like she is a dangerous opponent,” Robertson said. “I’m not taking this fight lightly. You’ve seen in her last two fights; even with J.J. Aldrich, she had some bad moments, but she was able to come back. She has that killer instinct in her where she will still pursue the finish no matter what. I’ve got to respect that.
“But also she’s got to respect my game. I’m a very strong wrestler, a very strong grappler, which I don’t feel she’s ever faced before. My submission game, I’m going to be threatening her from everywhere. It’s a threat no matter where we go.”
Following her last win, Robertson received a personal congratulations from White on her performance, and she believes the reward for a job well done was the fight with Barber.
Now she hopes a victory on Friday night will secure her the opportunity to begin climbing up the flyweight ranks.
“I feel like Maycee’s a big name,” Robertson said. “She’s a big matchup and a huge opponent for me, and on Oct. 18 I’m going to show my skills and show that I belong up here and hopefully get a top 10 opponent after that.”