Paige VanZant issued a widespread challenge Wednesday via Instagram.
However, she left out the one person who’s been banging down the door for a fight: Maycee Barber.
VanZant called out — rather respectfully, we should note — a whole bunch of UFC fighters by tagging their Instagram handles and saying “it would be an honor” to share the octagon with them, either at 115 pounds or 125 pounds.
“Lesson of the day: RESPECT,” VanZant wrote. “I respect those who have dedicated themselves to this profession and given it their everything to achieve greatness through showcasing their skill. I respect every female fighter tagged in this post. With that said, it would be an honor to share the cage with any of you ladies at 115 or 125.
“If any of you are interested, let UFC and (matchmaker) Mick Maynard know because I’m healthy and ready to get back in there.”
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Lesson of the day: RESPECT One of the first lessons we learn in martial arts is respect. I respect those who have dedicated themselves to this profession and given it their everything to achieve greatness through showcasing their skill. I respect every female fighter tagged in this post. With that said, it would be an honor to share the cage with any of you ladies at 115 or 125. If any of you are interested, let @UFC & @mickmaynard2 know because I'm healthy and ready to get back in there. @xiaonan_yan @jodieesquibel @syuri_official @cynthia.calvillo @spidermonkeyyoda @alexa_grasso @tatianasuarezufc @karolinakowalkiewicz @castironcasey @karatehottiemma @angieoverkill @alexchambersmma @teciatorres @randamarkos @emwhitmire115 @mackenziedern @zhangweilimma @livinhaufc @marinarodriguezmma @shockwavecifers @virnajandiroba @amandaufcribas @briannathebull @arianelipski @jessicammapro @joannajedrzejczyk @alexisdavismma @jessicaevileye @roxyfighter @laurenmurphymma @maryna_moroz_ufc @bulletvalentina @blondefighter @badmofo_jojo @veronicamacedomma @luciepudilovamma @champyoni @maramarvillarb @kalindrafaria @polianabotelho_ufc @wuyananufc_ @nadia187kassem @montana.delarosa @rachaelostovich @danger_dobson @savage_ufc @pedritaprvtufc @polyanaviana @princesstiger_mma @andreakgblee @meatballmolly @jennimaiaufc @antoninapantera @arianelipski @tailasantos.ufc @sabinamazo @viviaraujomma @mirandagranger @hannahgoldy @fightermizuki @dianabelbita @luanadread
So, why did VanZant leave out Barber? Well, according to VanZant’s manager, Kyle Stoltz, it comes down to respect.
“She’ll fight anybody, it has nothing to do with being afraid of fighting people,” Stoltz told ESPN. “She’s fought Rose Namajunas, a world champion and one of the highest ranked female fighters in the world. It’s about respect for her. We know what it means to fight Paige VanZant. It means you’re going to grow in popularity. We believe the UFC knows that. Maycee has not gone about this the right way, and Paige is not going to give that to her — in essence, giving her this star power that comes with fighting her.”
Barber defeated Gillian Robertson via knockout last weekend at TD Garden in Boston, improving her MMA record to 8-0. The undefeated prospect subsequently called out VanZant, who evidently has no interest in making the fight despite UFC formally offering her a bout with Barber.
VanZant, who has one fight remaining on her exclusive UFC contract, told ESPN she plans to test free agency after making good on her current deal. The 25-year-old last fought on Jan. 19, defeating Rachael Ostovich via armbar submission.
Thumbnail photo via Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports Images