VanZant will fight anyone … except Barber

MMA

Paige VanZant is literally willing to fight anyone on the UFC’s 115- or 125-pound rosters, except Maycee Barber.

In a social media post on Wednesday, VanZant (8-4) said it would be “an honor” to fight anyone at strawweight or flyweight in her next bout. She then appeared to tag, individually, every single member of both rosters, with the exception of Barber, who has been calling her out for months.

“Lesson of the day: RESPECT,” VanZant wrote on Instagram. “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.”

VanZant, 25, is one of the most popular fighters in the sport. She has one fight left on her exclusive UFC contract and has told ESPN she intends to fight it out and test free agency. According to her manager, Kyle Stoltz of Janus Sports and Entertainment, the UFC has formally offered her a fight against Barber, which she has declined.

“As of now, we have no interest in accepting a fight against Maycee,” Stoltz told ESPN.

Barber (8-0) is a fast-rising 125-pound prospect, who is coming off a dominant knockout victory over Gillian Robertson last weekend in Boston. The 21-year-old doubled down on her callouts of VanZant after the fight, saying she would ruin VanZant’s “Instagram career.” She’s also accused VanZant of being scared to fight her.

According to Stoltz, VanZant has not appreciated Barber’s methods in trying to book a fight against her and doesn’t want to reward that type of behavior. VanZant’s social media following on Instagram alone is 2.3 million, while Barber’s is a little over 100,000 by comparison.

“She’ll fight anybody, it has nothing to do with being afraid of fighting people,” Stoltz said. “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.”

Stoltz added VanZant is looking to fight as soon as possible, in either weight class.

“She’ll fight anybody at 125 pounds and she can take that on pretty short notice,” Stoltz said. “She’s healthy and ready to go. If it’s 115 pounds, that will take a little more time, but even that, she’s walking around lighter than she has in a long time.”

VanZant has been limited to just one appearance in the last year due to arm injuries, but she is currently healthy. She is 5-3 overall in the UFC.

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