In this day and age, mixed martial arts fighters must have a mixed bag of tricks to reveal the performances that eventually lead them to a shot at the championship belt. For UFC 161 “Evans vs. Henderson” fighter Pat “HD” Barry, the ground has been similar to a foreign language. Will the former kickboxer ever be able to adjust his style to fit in with high-caliber, well-rounded fighters?
I think not.
Barry was a professional kickboxer (15-5) before his conversion to MMA. Finishing nine of his 15 wins by way of knockout, he couldn’t string together three victories while wearing the big mittens. Once Barry began facing much stiffer competition, he would eventually leave the sport of kickboxing and transfer over to MMA.
But if the slugger couldn’t succeed where he’s most comfortable, why join a sport full of more complete athletes, like the Velasquezes and Werdums of the heavyweight class?
HD has yet to score two-straight wins in the Octagon, but Jon Fitch was released for a few poor performances against top-notch competitors. In some cases, if you put on fun fights for the fans, you will always have a spot in the UFC. Much like Dan Hardy.
At 33-years old, the window of opportunity is closing for Barry. Contenders in each weight division often revolve around the champion’s assets. Any missing components in your game can be crucial. For Barry, his ground game is nearly non-existent, and with Cain Velasquez currently one of the most relentless wrestlers in combat sports, Barry’s chances he’ll ever see UFC gold are slim to none.
What happens if HD can finally put together two-straight this Saturday against Shawn Jordan at UFC 161 in Winnipeg? Well, it depends on who he faces after that. If it’s someone who is capable of ending the fight in both areas – standing and on the ground – Barry could be in a world of hurt.
The days of being one-dimensional are through.
Slowly but surely, the fighters with only one way to win are headed for the door. Chuck Liddell was a knock out or be knocked out fighter. His aggression eventually made him leave the game, after going 1-5 in his final six UFC bouts, four of those losses being knockouts. Tito Ortiz was just a ground fighter who went 1-7-1 in his last nine UFC bouts. Forrest Griffin was a fighter who never had speed, strength, or talent in any aspect, and openly admits that he relied on his sheer will to win fights. And most recently, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson left the organization and signed with Bellator and TNA.
You may be a fan of HD’s fighting style – kicks that land with a thud – and every punch looks like it’s thrown to stop an opponent’s heartbeat. One might think a drop to a lower weight class would be an easy solution, but Barry isn’t a wrestler and has likely never cut any weight. Daniel Cormier is an Olympian with some of the best wrestling credentials in MMA, and he’s unsure about a move to 205 as a 240-pound heavyweight. Barry is also 240 – so a trip to 205 can be out of the question for HD.
We’ve seen how the heavyweight champ can handle a more skilled fighter than Barry when Velasquez bulldozed through “Cigano” for five full rounds at UFC 155 and left the Octagon almost unscathed. So what do you think will happen against a lesser-skilled grappler in Barry?
Unless a magical wrestling genie comes down and blesses Barry with ground skills, I think it’s safe to exclude HD from the title picture.