In June, Barber dominated Amanda Ribas, finishing her in the second round with strikes to up her current winning streak to five. That win moved Barber up to No. 8 in the UFC’s rankings in a division that is getting increasingly more difficult to climb the ranks in, and according to Barber, that’s because the division is so deep.
“I do agree that the 125 division has gotten huge and it has gotten way deeper,” Barber said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “I previously thought that the 115 division was the stacked division because there were so many girls at 115, but now we see girls that can’t make the weight, or that move up because it’s easier to make 125, and they’re finding success.
“It’s a stacked division and it’s not just one where you’re going to see just one champ dominate forever. I feel like Valentina [Shevchenko] is kind of giving up some more — she’s making a few more mistakes, and the girls, we’re all getting better and we’re going to be able to continue to capitalize on those mistakes. I don’t think it’s going to be a Ronda Rousey situation where it’s just like she’s beating every girl up and she’s just staying forever. I think we’re going to see the belt change hands several times.”
Barber certainly hopes to be one of those future champions, but so does former two-time strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, who is scheduled to make her flyweight debut against No. 2 ranked Manon Fiorot in the co-main event of the upcoming UFC Paris event. A win would immediately insert Namajunas into the flyweight title picture and give her a shot at becoming on the second woman to claim two-division champion status in the UFC, but Barber is not confident that’s in the cards for “Thug Rose.”
“I don’t know if she’s going to do well,” Barber opined. “I think Rose, from a technical standpoint, phenomenal. I think she’s an incredible fighter. I just think she’s really small. I think she’s small for the division, and I remember when I previously trained with her, she’s not like some physical girl. She’s a technical fighter and she’s highly skilled, but I feel like the girls at 125, there are several girls in the division that have the power and have that ‘I’m just going to break you’ [mentality]. They have the power that she doesn’t possess, and I feel like Rose is one of those fighters where if she’s on mentally, she’s on, but if she breaks, she breaks and she can get beat. I feel like that power in the 125 division could break her.”
Barber has at least some grounds for her statements as she and Namajunas trained together some during Barber’s brief stint training at Roufusport in 2021. But Barber also acknowledges that was a few years ago and that Namajunas could prove her wrong.
“Let her try it. Let her see how she feels,” Barber said. “I could be completely wrong. She could have, in the time — I don’t know how much time she’s had off, but in that time, maybe she could have put on some muscle, maybe she can put on some mass and completely prove me wrong. That was just my first initial reaction when I heard she was fighting at 125 — and fighting Manon, at that. I was like, I don’t know how that fight is going to go. It’s a tough fight.”