It was a vintage, jaw-cracking finish handed out by Pat Barry at Saturday night's The Ultimate Fighter season 16 finale.
The decorated striker added another Knockout of the Night honor to his collection for his vicious KO of Shane del Rosario, the end coming at just 26 seconds into the second round. Connecting with a huge left hand followed by a chin-cracking right hook, the Strikeforce import went crashing into the cage, a brutal showcase of "HD's" always-dangerous striking skills.
In all honesty, Barry, who went into this fight with just one win in his last four fights, needed this victory in order to maintain his position within the heavyweight rankings.
To his credit, HD did show some overall improvement in a few of his recent losses, even revealing some new ground skills in his last defeat, a TKO beatdown by Lavar Johnson, earlier this year. But with such seemingly easy wins—like his near-KO of Cheick Kongo last year—slipping through his fingers, last night's emphatic KO showed a more patient side of Barry that we haven't seen inside the Octagon before.
I actually think that Barry's recent poor stretch was good for him.
In his losses to Johnson and Kongo, HD was actually winning the majority of the time. But once he got a taste for blood, Barry would lose focus and go all out for the finish, leaving him open for vicious counterstrikes that would end up being his undoing.
This time around, it was Barry who needed to make a comeback. Absolutely dominated on the ground in the first round, HD needed to get back to his bread and butter by forcing del Rosario to strike with him.
Obviously, this was a good choice.
What really impressed me, though, was that, even after a terrible opening frame, Barry didn't recklessly retaliate by going crazy with punches once he hurt his opponent. Instead, Barry analyzed how injured del Rosario was and calculated the right amount of combinations that were necessary to put him to sleep.
If Barry can continue to pick his shots better, he may become one of the more deadly strikers in the division.
While I'm not saying HD could outstrike these guys in a mixed martial arts match or otherwise, this recent finish reminds me of how guys such as Alistair Overeem and Mirko Cro Cop go about putting away their prey. Once they have a guy hurt, they wait for the perfect moment to pounce.
If Barry can use this strategy successfully against some of the division's rising stars, such as a Travis Browne or a Mark Hunt, his name will be added to the conversation of upper-echelon strikers.
For now, we know Barry is a great striker, with his kickboxing resume as evidence. But if he can just add that one little tweak to his striking and continue to build his overall MMA skills, who knows how good HD can get.