Three of Pat Barry’s six career victories have come by way of technical knockout via leg kicks—a rare finish for fighters.
Another “HD” rarity: he’s a former K-1 kickboxer successfully fashioning a mixed martial arts career. The stand-up skills the Duke Roufus protégé brings to the Octagon this Sunday night at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburg, Penn. prompt the boisterous heavyweight to confidently claim French striker Cheick Kongo will take him down.
"I can guarantee that anybody that I fight is gonna take the fight to the ground. That's no mystery or no secret that going to the ground is definitely where you have your best chance of beating me,” said Barry to ESPN’s Inside the Cage Radio. “You're not going to stand there with Mike Tyson in the UFC and just box with him the whole time."
The 31-year-old started jiu-jitsu just weeks before jumping into MMA in May 2008. Three years of experience has slowly given the Louisiana-native requisite understanding for this level of MMA on the mat, but it’s been working with the DeathClutch gym in Minnesota that has Barry finally grasping wrestling and jiu-jitsu to bolster his stand-up game.
"Not that its gonna happen--but don't be too shocked to see me take the fight to the ground,” said the former U.S. Sanshou champion.
Working with NCAA National Champions Brock Lesnar, Cole Konrad and Marty Morgan, Barry has found himself in grappling situations just as rugged as the kickboxing sessions he fell in love with as a college student. Trial by fire is a speedy learning process.
"It's either lay there and get smothered by these guys and die—and they'll just throw you in the dumpster behind the gym—or figure out how to get out from under them and stop them from taking you to the ground,” he said, adding, “[Konrad]’s body molds around yours so there's nowhere to go."
The rigors of training at DeathClutch have endowed Barry with a heightened sense of toughness he’s sure Kongo won’t be able to break down.
"They'll take you over and body slam you on a dumbbell. You're supposed to be totally fine with that,” said Barry, 3-2 in the Octagon. “You can't stand up and say, 'Hey, you threw me on a dumbbell.' You're supposed to stand up and say, 'Good move,' or something like that. Even when they demo stuff!"
The experience has focused Barry on harnessing his own dangerous traits. Wrestling with Morgan and Konrad has been so frustrating at times, he’s shoved them away and unloaded bare-fisted punches into their abdomens. It’s what Morgan was attempting to bring forth all along: no remorse with any movement in a fight.
Barry boasts all heavyweights who take a leg kick from him will feel like they stepped on a landmine. The realities of mixed martial arts have made landing them more difficult though. Defending takedowns and getting back up caused him to tire, limiting his movement and chances at landing explosive striking. The slew of heavyweight training partners emphasizing grappling has not only solved that problem, but it’s strengthened his kicking ability.
"It's helped out my entire game. I've uncontrollably had no choice but to get stronger. I'm a pretty muscular guy. None of that is real. It's all fake. It was all filled with helium,” said Barry. “Wrestling with these guys, they've actually become functional. I've actually gotten strong. I look like I should be for the first time ever."
How Barry looks Sunday night depends on whether or not he can get the landmine leg kick to detonate against Cheick Kongo.
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