The UFC's last show on Versus goes down this Saturday, October 1st, at 9 PM ET.
The card is headlined by Dominick Cruz's bantamweight title defense against Demetrious Johnson, but before the little guys go to work, two big guys will face off in the Octagon. Pat "HD" Barry, standing 5'11", will face off against Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve, standing 6'11".
This one should be fun.
Barry is one of the better pure strikers in the heavyweight division, though he has notably struggled when it comes to grappling. Coming off of a shocking KO loss to Cheick Kongo, Barry is looking to get back to winning ways and start climbing the UFC ranks.
Struve is coming off of a tough loss to Travis Browne, who caught him with a brutal superman punch to finish the fight. Struve is a well-rounded fighter, and is looking to showcase improved use of his reach in this fight.
This fight has a lot of interesting things to discuss, so let's go point by point:
Barry is definitely the better striker of the two fighters, with K-1 level kickboxing, but Struve presents a very unique challenge.
Though, as Barry has been quick to remind us, he is used to fighting taller competition, Struve's one foot height advantage and nine inch reach advantage is surely something Barry has never experienced before. The biggest question heading into this fight is how Barry will handle that difference.
More than likely he will work to follow Struve's strikes into the pocket and look to blast away at Struve with his brutal leg kicks, and probably a few overhand rights if the opening presents itself. Struve, on the other hand, will need to keep Barry on the outside in order to avoid the smaller man's power. While he should probably be able to do that, Barry's kickboxing experience will make him hard to stop.
I give Barry the edge here based on his skill level, but Struve's length and size will almost definitely create problems.
Given Struve's 14 career submission wins, and Barry's historical allergy to the ground, it seems fairly certain that Struve will hold the advantage on the ground.
I actually think that Barry may have developed better wrestling than Struve, especially given his time training with Team DeathClutch and Marty Morgan, but Struve's long limbs make his guard especially dangerous, as demonstrated by his seven career triangle choke victories. We've also yet to actually see any ground game to speak of from Barry, so I'm purely speculating at that.
I doubt that much of this fight will take place on the ground, but if it does, Struve's jiu-jitsu and dangerous guard game should give him the edge. Indeed, Struve's best chance of winning this fight may be to try to take Barry down and nullify his kickboxing, or potentially pull guard and immediately work for submissions.
This fight very well may come down to a battle of toughness. Each has a distinct advantage over the other, and the battle of reach will be an interesting twist to this fight.
Struve has shown enormous heart several times in the Octagon, persevering through tough first rounds against Denis Stojnic and Christian Morecraft, as well as a hard fought decision over Paul Buentello. We've also seen his chin do him in, however, in his KO losses to Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson, and Travis Browne.
Barry is always tough on his feet and seems to be able to shrug off hard shots, though he wasn't so lucky against Cheick Kongo. His relatively extensive kickboxing background has gotten him comfortable with trading shots back and forth, and he should have no problem standing in front of Struve and going to work.
This is pretty evenly split between the two, but I give the slight edge to Barry, if only because he's had his lights turned off less often.
Advantage: Barry, but only slightly
This is a tough matchup for both fighters. Though Barry should be the superior striker, he will have his work cut out for him getting past Struve's long reach. Assuming, however, that he can avoid takedowns and undesirable positions on the ground, he should be able to out-work Struve on the feet and make his shots count.
If the betting lines are any indicator, this fight is Barry's to lose, but it's no blowout. No matter how it ends, this should definitely be one of the more exciting fights on the card.
Pick: Pat Barry