If I had to highlight one fighter coming off the Contender Series with the brightest future, I would select Barber without any hesitation. That’s not a knock on any of the other athletes on this list — it’s just that the 21-year-old has already collected a pair of stoppage wins inside the Octagon and is already poised to be a factor in the flyweight division going forward.
After mauling Jamie Colleen in her Week 5 win during Season 2, Barber got a home game for her promotional debut, squaring off Hannah Cifers in Denver, where the Fort Collins resident scored a second-round win. For her sophomore appearance, Barber moved up to flyweight and took on JJ Aldrich, who entered on a three-fight winning streak and was starting to build some momentum of her own in the 125-pound weight class.
Following a rough first round that saw her get dropped for the first time in her career, Barber started making adjustments in the second and once she found her range and rhythm, she connected with a series of strikes that eventually brought the fight to a halt.
The wins are great and crucial for advancement, obviously, but the things that have stuck out most about Barber thus far are her tenacity and finishing instincts, two things you can’t really teach a fighter and that you don’t necessarily expect from a 21-year-old. As she continues to gain experience and improve her fight IQ, “The Future” could very well make a run at breaking Jon Jones’ record for being the youngest champion in UFC history.