Pat Barry on Cro Cop, Kickboxing, Decisions and When He Knew MMA Wasn't for Him

Hunter Homistek@HunterAHomistekCorrespondent IMay 2, 2014

NEW YORK - MARCH 06:   UFC heavyweight Pat Barry flexes his muscles at a press conference at Radio City Music Hall on March 06, 2012 in New York City.  UFC announced that their third event on the FOX network will take place on Saturday, May 5 from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J.. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Pat Barry will crush you inside the kickboxing ring and then take you out for dinner as a thank-you.

That's just part of what makes "HD" such a lovable dude both inside and outside the realm of combat. There's a time and a place for violence, and that's college inside the ring.

Even then, Barry told Bleacher Report, he doesn't object to being a little bit friendly.

"I'll be your friend after, before, during, two weeks after, whatever," Barry said. "It doesn't matter. But I have no problem punching and kicking you in the neck...That's the sport. That's the commitment we all made."

If anybody has a reason to exude happiness and friendliness these days, it's Barry.

Previously employed as a UFC heavyweight, Barry left MMA for kickboxing, a sport which he competed in at the professional level since 2002. Now, he feels at home back inside the ring.

Even as he was winning fights inside the UFC Octagon and knocking his foes out with his brutal stand-up attack, Barry said kickboxing was always his true love.

When asked about the precise moment when he realized that MMA just wasn't for him, HD provided a surprising answer.

"My first fight that I won with three low kicks. I didn't want to do it," Barry said. "MMA wasn't something that I really wanted to do. Even then, I wasn't dying to get into it."

Still, it was 2008, and MMA was only getting bigger and bigger on the national scene. Kickboxing, on the other hand, was dying and Barry had to make a choice to support himself and his family. He was 15-5-1 competing in kickboxing, but the opportunities just weren't there anymore for the budding superstar.

Electing to take his talents to the cage, Barry was a monster on the regional circuit thanks to his polished kickboxing skills.

He won his first three fights via knockout/technical knockout and the UFC came calling. Another stoppage—this time in the big showdue to low kicks, and many wondered if Barry was the most devastating striker that had ever graced the Octagon's canvas.

Pat Barry's UFC on Fox 3 opponent, Lavar Johnson, sprawls as the two hit the mat.
Pat Barry's UFC on Fox 3 opponent, Lavar Johnson, sprawls as the two hit the mat.USA TODAY Sports

And then grappling happened.

Barry, never one to embrace grappling inside the cage, suffered two losses in his next three fightsboth by submission. His inability to defend his opponents' ground games hindered his stand-up attack, as he was always worried about being taken to the mat and finished.

"Even if you're in an MMA match as a striker matched up against another striker, and you both agree 'We're not going to go to the ground,' you can't trust that," Barry said. "Whoever is standing across from you is untrustworthy all the time, no matter what. That's what I believe."

In particular, Barry recalls a UFC 115 matchup with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, a noted kickboxer himself, in 2010.

For the better part of three rounds, Barry dominated the stand-up portion of the fight, even knocking down the legendary Croatian on two occasions.

Still, to Barry's discontent, submissions exist in MMA and Cro Cop took advantage of this facet of the game, slapping on a rear-naked choke and ending the fight with just 30 seconds to go.

While many people point to this fight as a missed opportunity for Barry, he sees it differently.

"That was flattering. Really, think about it," Barry said. "That was Mirko Cro Cop, and he had to beat me by choking me. I wasn't going to go down from a punch or a kick. He had to choke me out in order to win that fight…How flattering is that?"

Now, though, Barry is back where he belongs, and the chokes and armbars are things of the past. 

Since leaving the UFC, he has fought just once inside the ring, earning a devastating second-round knockout over Ed Burris as Combat Sports Challenge 39 in March.

This win showed that Barry was ready to transition back into the big leagues of kickboxing, and he now finds himself matched up with Zack "The Black Warrior" Mwekassa (10-1) at Glory 16 in Denver on May 3.

According to Barry, fans can expect two things in this matchup.

"One: You can expect that I'm not going to get submitted. That's cool," Barry said. "Two: I'm not a distance fighter. I have no intentions of going the distance, and I'm sure with all the finishesall the knockouts and finishes that he has alsohe's got no intentions of going the distance."

The volatile nature of combat sports leaves no room for certainties, but win or lose, Barry knows that a decision is unacceptable. To him, it's impossible to truly "win" via decision.

"If I win a fight by decision, I personally count that as a loss on my record," Barry said. "If a fight goes the distance and I win, I count that as a personal loss, because that's not what I was supposed to do. I'm a finisher."

This mentality made Barry a fan favorite throughout his UFC career, and while it didn't lead to a heavyweight championship, it taught HD invaluable lessons as he transitions back to the ring to continue his fighting career.

Of course, with a character like Barry, all options remain open. Maybe his time in MMA fostered a false love for kickboxing. Maybe he doesn't want to pursue a career here either.

"I needed to do MMA for the five years that I did for me to totally grasp what I'm capable of doing in kickboxing," Barry said.

"Maybe on Saturday, maybe I get punched in the head and die. I have no idea. Maybe on Saturday I get in the ring, move around, throw a kick, he blocks it then punches me in the head and I realize, 'Ahh, nope. Not for me.' And I go back to delivering pizza."

Behind the jest, though, sits a serious, poised Pat Barryone that hasn't seemed as focused and determined in years.

With GLORY, he's back where he belongs, and he's ready to show the world what an unbridled HD is capable of on his feet.

"The goal is to be the best of all time," Barry said. "I'm not getting back into kickboxing because it'll be fun for a few fights. I'm coming in specifically to walk through everybody, climb my way to the top and be the best."