Once the flyweight cast of The Ultimate Fighter season 26 was revealed in 2017, all mixed martial arts fans familiar with the division were happy to see the name “Barb Honchak” on that list.
In 2013-2014, Honchak was the Invicta FC flyweight champion and had unanimously established herself as the best female 125-pound fighter in the world. But after only her second career title defense, injuries struck and the champion vanished for three years. That, of course, being until she made her come back on TUF 26.
There were a lot of question marks surrounding Honchak going into the show due to her lengthy absence, but she was obviously still an experienced veteran presence and the UFC knew that as they seeded her at No. 2 out of the 16 contestants in the tournament. Only her fellow veteran in Roxanne Modaferri was ranked higher.
In Honchak’s unofficially official return bout, she would take on the talented prospect in Gillian Robertson. If she was expected to look rusty, that wasn’t at all the case.
The former champion dominated her opposition in classic fashion on route to a second-round TKO victory. In her quarter-final bout, she would dispatch of the always game Rachael Ostovich thus propelling herself to the semi-finals.
Unfortunately, this would be where Honchak would suffer her third (unofficial) defeat of her career as one of the season’s underdogs, Nicco Montano, would manage to pull off the upset.
Honchak would still get her shot in the UFC, however, but things wouldn’t quite go her way.
Her official UFC debut saw her take on former Invicta FC bantamweight champion, Lauren Murphy at the TUF 26 Finale who she would lose to in an incredibly close fight that many argued she should have won.
Initially, Murphy wasn’t even supposed to be Honchak’s opponent as Honchak was set for a rematch with the aforementioned Modaferri. But thanks to Sijara Eubanks’ weight missing for the title fight in the finals, Modaferri would act as the replacement which led to Murphy replacing her vs Honchak on just a day’s notice.
For her second UFC appearance, Honchak would end up getting the rematch with Modaferri at the TUF 27 Finale but this wouldn’t go her way either.
It was known that Modaferri had improved leaps and bounds since the pairs first meeting in 2011, but Modaferri wanted to make sure of that.
After a rough round one, it wouldn’t get any better in the second as Modaferri controlled Honchak in all aspects of the fight before finishing things with ground and pound for the TKO. Thus making it the first and only time that Honchak has lost via finish in her 14 career fights (10-4 record).
The Body Lock has since confirmed that Honchak was released from the UFC in August, therefore prematurely cutting a long-awaited UFC career short for a division’s former best.
As for the “Little Warrior’s” future, it remains unknown. But there’s no denying that any organization would benefit from having the 39-year olds talents in their division while they still can.
Drake Riggs is an MMA writer who specializes in feature pieces, the women's fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided MMA, The Body Lock, Cageside Press, Sherdog, and MMA Today. He is also a longtime fan of the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.