Fireworks are in the forecast for when Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson meet in the Octagon on the main card of the UFC on FOX 3 event. Both men have tremendous power and are only one punch away from victory.
Barry has become one of the most popular fighters in all of MMA by his colorful personality and fighting style. He's come a long way from being the guy who survived on rice and ketchup and now trains with some of the great talent in Brock Lesnar's camp.
Using his pro-kickboxing-level skills, Barry has some of the most devastating leg kicks in all of MMA. In recent times he's also been working on improving his ground game and that showed in his last bout against Christian Morecraft.
Johnson meanwhile is a pretty straight forward kind of fighter. He's going to come in and take your head off with tremendous power punches. In his UFC debut he basically walked through the durable Joey Beltran with ease.
It will be Johnson's one-dimensional style of fighting that will do him in against Barry. Most fans will be expecting a stand-up war and that will be how the opening minutes will play out. But I see Barry looking to take the fight to the mat.
Barry's Achilles heel has long been his grappling skills but the move to the DeathClutch camp signifies a change in the thinking of Barry. I believe he's realized in order to become a force in the heavyweight division he needs to have a solid grappling base to compliment his striking prowess.
The talented Muay Thai striker Shane del Rosario was able to use his grappling skills to defeat Johnson, a fight that I'm sure Barry and his team have looked at. Johnson has openly come out to express his disdain for grappling and will be moving forward all night in an attempt to lay leather on Barry's face.
Johnson's punches are the one thing I'm concerned about for Barry in this bout. Barry has been rocked before by smaller, less talented fighters before and even was KO'd by a nearly unconscious Cheick Kongo.
Barry loves to stand and bang but if he really has become a smarter fighter he will realize his night will be much easier by taking Johnson to the mat. This is why I believe fans will be in for a shock when the pro kickboxer Barry looks for takedowns, submissions and ground-and-pound.
It will be an entertaining slug fest for the opening minutes but eventually Barry will seize the opportunity to showcase his new grappling skills and secure the win via shocking submission.