After back-to-back losses against Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve, Pat Barry rebounded with an important knockout win over Christian Morecraft in January. With the win, Barry potentially saved his spot on the UFC's roster and earned a spot on Saturday's network-televised UFC on Fox 3.
Following his win over Morecraft, Barry will be looking for consecutive victories for the first time since his UFC debut. Standing between Barry and a run of success is Lavar Johnson, who brutally knocked out Joey Beltran in his UFC debut after the folding of Strikeforce's heavyweight division.
Heading into this weekend's clash, let's take a look at which hard-hitting heavyweight has a better chance of walking away from UFC on Fox 3 with a two-fight winning streak.
Johnson earned much-deserved respect for his punching power after stopping Beltran in the opening round of their January fight. With a series of powerful uppercuts, Johnson became the first fighter to ever knock the granite-chinned Beltran out.
That being said, a former professional kickboxer, Barry also packs plenty of power and is a much more technical striker than Johnson. Though his loss to Kongo might lead some to question his chin, Barry has only been knocked out once in his career and should be able to use his relative quickness to stay on the outside and avoid Johnson's power punches.
Against a large opponent like Johnson, Barry's thunderous leg kicks will be a valuable weapon in allowing him to further slow down his opponent, which allow him to unleash his hands with a greater sense of security later in the fight.
While his ground game has improved, Barry's wrestling is still one of the more glaring holes in his game. If Barry does decide to utilize leg kicks against Johnson, he will need to make sure they are not caught, or he could find himself fighting off of his back against a much larger opponent.
Johnson isn't a great wrestler by any means, but his size alone should allow him to drag an inexperienced wrestler to the ground if he is able to clinch up with Barry on Saturday.
If one fighter takes this fight to the ground, it will be Johnson, after being unable to deal with a more technical striker in Barry.
While he is more accomplished at knocking opponents out on his feet, Johnson has serious power in his hands from all positions, especially against an opponent like Barry, who would likely be lost on his back.
Don't expect this fight to produce a Submission of the Night award. While both fighters have suffered a majority of their losses via submission, Johnson's guillotine choke in September 2004 was the only time either of these fighters forced an opponent to tap.
It would be surprising enough to some if this fight went to the ground. The likelihood of a submission win for either fighter is almost non-existent.
While he has many more MMA fights than Barry, Johnson has only competed inside the Octagon for less than five minutes in his career. Already lined up to fight on the main card of a Fox-televised event, Johnson will surely have some jitters heading into this bout.
At the same time, leading up to his 12th appearance in the sport, Barry is still adjusting to MMA. The former kickboxer showed improvement on the ground against Christian Morecraft, but his wrestling and jiu-jitsu still leave much to be desired.
In terms of physical attributes, Johnson's size and strength are big advantages heading into this fight. However, being a fighter who prefers to stand, Johnson may not take full advantage of his size by taking this fight to the ground.
As far as conditioning goes, Barry's decision victory over Beltran was the only instance that either of these fighters have gone three rounds, so their conditioning is still somewhat of an unknown.
As much as fans expect this fight to turn into a toe-to-toe slugfest, Johnson is going to realize he needs to take this fight to the ground as soon as he endures one leg kick from Barry.
Despite his lack of amateur wrestling experience, Johnson will only need to get his hands on Barry in order to drag the former kickboxer to the canvas. From there, Barry will not be able to escape nearly as easily as he did against Morecraft.
Johnson will rain down powerful blows and break the will of his opponent. Once Barry is desperate to get back to a standing position, he will give up his back and succumb to punches from his mammoth foe.
Johnson defeats Barry by technical knockout (punches) in the first round.