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“A lot of things that I’ve learned mentally was just patience,” Barber said. “Being a fighter that has come onto the scene really fast, I came on and it was like, ‘Go, go, go, go, go.’ No one ever told me, ‘Hey, let’s focus on making sure that your body is healthy. Make sure that your mentality is ready to go.’ I think it really helped my body to neutralize. There’s a life after fighting, and I want to be able to have a family someday. I want to be able to have a future career later on, so I need my body to be healthy out there, too.

“For me, this whole year was like a, ‘All right, let’s make sure not only are you the best fighter you can possibly be; let’s just be the healthiest person and the healthiest version of yourself mentally, physically and just overall.’ I think that that’s the biggest thing that I was able to take away.”

MMA fans have notoriously short memories, and Grasso does hold wins over the likes of Randa Markos and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, so it isn’t necessarily surprising Barber finds herself as a slight underdog against the Mexican. 

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Barber doesn’t take the status as a slight, necessarily. She’s keen on the nature of the business as well as the perception behind her circumstances right now. That said, she is very much still the incredibly confident person that made her a fast-rising star in the promotion (and in fairness, at just 22, a star that is still rising). For now, though, she is enjoying the opportunity to prove some doubters wrong and help out those who haven’t left her bandwagon after her first professional stumble.

“I think that for me to be the underdog, one, it’s going to make a lot of people that are betting on me a lot of money,” she laughs. “But two, is I can see how it would happen. From an outsider, it’s like, I got injured, I lost, and nobody knows how someone comes back after a year layoff. Nobody knows how someone comes back from an injury quite like that. It’s a serious injury, so for a lot of people that are making the odds and making the statistics, I can see how it would be looked at, but they have a very big misconception of the growth I’ve had and the person that I am and how strong-willed I am and how much I’m going to come for that win.”


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