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Pat Barry: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Pat Barry: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Another UFC fight card has come and gone and as usual we contemplate the possible fallout from the fights that just went down. Win or lose, we always wonder what a fighter will do and where they will go after their most recent fight, and for many of us no fighter invokes more contemplation from this past weekend’s UFC Fight Night 33 card than Pat “HD” Barry. Pat stayed true to his “hype or die” moniker yet again by losing in spectacular and violent fashion to emerging UFC heavyweight monster Soa Palelei. It goes without saying that professional fighting is an unforgiving and unaccommodating venture and a look at the career of Pat Barry reveals that few fighters are more aware of this fact than Mr. Hype or die himself as he often finds himself frustratingly stuck in a precarious type of middle ground and with no easy solution in sight.

Sizing Up The Problem

The biggest and most obvious factor that is almost always at play in Barry’s career is his stature. Pat Barry is listed at 5 foot 11 inches tall, with a 74-inch reach, and usually weighs in at or near 240 pounds. With the heavyweight division limit being 265 pounds we often see huge guys who are cutting weight for weigh-ins and stepping into the cage in the 280s on fight night. This is clearly a huge disadvantage for a fighter the size of Barry, especially when you consider that these huge guys are also extremely athletic in addition to being huge. When the next division down would require Barry to drop somewhere in the neighborhood 35 pounds we start to see even more so the challenge of being in this tough spot. Too small to consistently win at heavyweight and too big to comfortably drop to light heavyweight (205lbs), Barry has had no choice but to try his best to overcome this problem with advances in his skill set and technical capabilities. We often see glimpses of this strategy paying off but not in the way that matters most, wins.

Mandatory credit: USA Today Sports Images - Don McPeak

Mandatory credit: USA Today Sports Images – Don McPeak

The Skills

For all the influence that the issue of size has on Barry’s situation, it is not the only thing to consider. I mean after all what is fighting really all about when it comes down to the nitty gritty? The answer to that is most definitely skills. Barry possesses a formidable skill set highlighted most by his extreme power in his hands and feet. Despite all of his work to expand on this over the years he is still a striker first and foremost. Even with the progress Barry has made in the grappling department it is hard for any of it to shine through when he is giving up so much size to his opponents. Deficiencies in size and strength can be overcome more easily in the striking facets of MMA than in the grappling realm where the weight of an athlete can have so much effect. Speed, technique, footwork, head movement, and explosiveness are certainly attributes that can overcome size when two athletes are striking but Barry’s foes in the Octagon don’t have to stand with him any more than they want to, this is the beauty of MMA (for them at least).

Even if Barry could magically snap his fingers and weigh in at 205 pounds, we have to wonder if the outlook would be much better. Today’s 205 pound fighters are among the most frightening athletes in the game, often possessing extreme levels of both strength and skill and they are not too big to the point where their agility is inhibited at all. As we examine the prospects of Barry finding a solution to his problem we again see that there is a definite shortage of good choices. We know for a fact that things are not looking to good at heavyweight and we can only speculate as to how things would go at LHW when Barry himself has often ruled out a drop in division. There are other possible solutions but unfortunately for Barry they are completely out of his hands.

Mandatory credit: USA Today Sports Images - Tom Szczerbowski

Mandatory credit: USA Today Sports Images – Tom Szczerbowski

Help A Brother Out Will Ya?

With such a big gap between the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions in MMA let’s dust off an old suggestion and see how it would affect Pat. A cruiser weight division has been brought up many times over the years and even implemented by various promotions around the world but never by the UFC or any other prominent North American MMA promotion. Right smack in the middle of HW and LHW is our boy Pat. He seems to be the perfect fit for such a weight class and it would be very interesting to see how such a division would affect his career. When you consider that 6 of Barry’s MMA losses have come to men who are an average size of 6 foot 4 inches tall, 262 pounds, and with an 80 inch reach it is once again obvious that competing with these brutes is a tough proposition. On the contrary, when you look at impressive performances that Barry has had against guys like Antoni Hardonk, Mirko Crocop, Joey Beltran, Cheick Kongo, and Shane Del Rosario that have an average fighting weight of about 235 pounds, win or lose it is obvious that when paired with guys closer to his own size Barry does quite well.

Unfortunately for Barry though the arrival of a cruiser weight division is unlikely any time soon according to UFC boss Dana White. That leaves only 1 other possible scenario for Barry to have a chance at consistently winning as much as his ability should allow him to, careful matchmaking. With Pat Barry so often being matched up against guys MUCH bigger than him and often getting clobbered, it makes me wonder what kind of relationship he has with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.

Mandatory credit: USA Today Sports Images - Josh Holmberg

Mandatory credit: USA Today Sports Images – Josh Holmberg

Now I know at least some will say that this is the UFC and if you cannot win then this is no place for you. But as far as the UFC brass is concerned this is a business and if a fighter can make them money then than there is a place for that fighter. The UFC has made favorable match ups for certain fighters before and I think it would be fun as hell if Barry got this consideration. The guy is very exciting when he’s not getting smashed by 260 pound behemoths, has 4 post fight bonuses, is very active with social networking (has at least 1 twitter bonus), and has appeared on at least 4 PPV cards that have drawn over a half million buys. I am not suggesting these cards drew this well because of him but he no doubt benefitted from it and has been seen by a whole lot of fans.

If the UFC intends to keep Pat Barry around, and it seems they do, then they should seriously consider taking his unique situation into consideration. There is no point in taking a valuable commodity and feeding it to monsters that may not have the same level of appeal. And with his last disclosed pay day somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 thousand (had he won) it’s not like he is breaking the bank. The UFC seems to reward excitement and loyalty and Pat Barry has provided his fair share of both, I say if they are going to continue to employ the guy then they should give him some more fights where he will entertain.

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