The undefeated fighter is going to be making her UFC Women’s Flyweight Division debut in this bout, a move that was decided upon after Barber’s UFC debut fight and some serious issues concerning weight cutting.
“We decided that right after the fight in November, so I struggled a lot with nutrition...not because I was not training, but because of all these stupid reasons. When I decided to start fighting, I went with the first nutritionist that I had and that was one that I thought was very tough and gritty and was respectable because of where she was at. So I went with her and she put me on a really, really restrictive diet. I used to walk around at 130 pounds and so my first time at 115 was easy…I didn’t realize how low the calories were. I was like at five..six hundred calories at day, so my body responded well to the diet, but I didn’t know how to properly do it. So I kind of started it and I made that fight and it was perfect, I honestly don’t know how my performance would’ve been in that fight if I had to go that physical for all three rounds. So who knows if it wouldn’t have went that perfect, after that fight…I tried to go back up and I knew that I had another fight, so I started the cut again. That next cut was a little bit harder because I was put on the same diet and my body responded, but not as well. Then the next one, I missed weight in the next fight because of a couple of personal issues and also because that diet was like…you can’t keep cutting calories…cutting calories…cutting calories. They just kept getting harder and the last fight at 115, I was working with George Lockhart and I’ve had a lot of nutritionists say that you gotta get back up (in weight)…push you back up a hundred calories. For the past year and a half, two years now…I hadn’t been above a thousand calories and that’s a lot. That’s not worth it for the amount of pain and so my last cut, I had twelve weeks in a camp and started out on a twelve week diet plan. I was cutting the weight and following the program, the weight wasn’t dropping…it was dropping a little bit, but then I started to train a little more and my weight started to go up. I went into the fight week at 133 pounds, I cut 15 pounds and I almost made weight. I missed and I had to do it again, I had like an hour long. It was a bad cut and that was me saying I want to move up, I want to move up. I know I’m going to be really good there, but I also put on…my body wants to put weight on, my body wants to go back to that. I actually went out to the UFC PI (Performance Institute) in Vegas the day after the fight, they did a bunch of tests and they found that my resting metabolic rate was decreased by 50%. That’s really bad, my hormones weren’t working right and I was just in rough shape. They were like ‘we need to put you on a reverse diet,’ it’s not a gradual one. They got me from a thousand calories to 22,000/25,000 calories right away. It was what my body needed, but also…I increased in weight. So I knew going into that that I was going to gain more weight and then it was going to be a process, a lot of us women…we go through a thing where we view ourselves like…we are hard on ourselves for how we look and how we feel. We more so care about how we look than how we feel, so my little thing with that was like ‘OK, I’m going to have to get over this. You’re going to put on body fat, you’re going to put on weight’ and that’s what happened. I also knew that I wanted to fight again, if I start this…I’m not going to not fight. So the next best thing is to go up while we’re trying to heal my body, so I’m still in the healing phase of kind of trying to get my metabolism back up. I went back out to the PI and it’s still not up to where we want it, but it was a little bit better. I was like at -20%, so I was halfway back. I got a lot of my hormones slowly figured out, but that’s just a struggle for us because I call it ‘I plan too much.’ You tell me what to do and I’ll do it, no matter how I feel because I trust you. You’re a professional in that spot and I know I’m not a professional in those kind of things, I just put a little too much faith in the people and I put it into the wrong people first. Now we’re getting figured out, I’m working at the highest levels. They’re running real tests and they’re doing all that, my weight went up and I knew I wanted to fight still. So 125 it is, I feel great. In all of my past fights, I’ve never had a fight at higher than a thousand calories. So we’ll see, I feel like this is going to be like better physically. How I feel will be better, obviously I increased in weight and now I have another cut…I’m still on a decrease of calories. So its still going to be a little bit not perfect of where I want to be nutritionally, but I’m back on the road being where I should be…which is young in my career. I’d rather figure it out now, rather than later,” says Barber in an exclusive interview with Fightful’s James Lynch.
Barber was able to make weight after the additional time for UFC Fight Night Denver, but the affects of that are still being felt by the fighter at this time.
Fellow UFC fighter Mackenzie Dern announced that she was expecting baby number one later this year, which for Barber, may mean that they never meet in the Octagon.
“That kind of threw me off, you know what…but I mean good for her, I guess. I don’t have any thoughts on it, I kind of knew…she’s gonna have success no matter what she does in the world. I had a hope that I would fight her, but at the same time…I kind of knew it would never happen. I’m not bummed about it because I know that life happens and I don’t get my heart set on anything,” says Barber.
UFC Fight Night Nashville takes place on Saturday, March 23 from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee with Stephen Thompson and Anthony Pettis headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on ESPN+.