"I’ve been a performer since Day One, I’ve been a performer since birth. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, just perform." - Pat Barry
Reputation means a lot in this world, no matter what part of it you’ve chosen to hang your hat on. So let’s get this out of the way about UFC heavyweight Pat Barry. He shows up - whether it’s for an interview, a photo shoot, or most importantly, a fight. And once he’s there, he will give you Pat Barry, a hundred percent, no holds barred, no filter, no airs.
It’s why when he showed up at the UFC Fan Expo in Houston last October to sign some copies of the UFC Encyclopedia (and mind you, this wasn’t a scheduled appearance), the line snaked around the booth, with Barry making sure everyone who approached him felt like he or she was the only person in the room. That included the little girl who asked Barry for his autograph and he agreed, but only after she fulfilled his request:
“I want your autograph first.”
His performances in the Octagon leave you with a similar feeling that you didn’t just see someone showing up for a paycheck, but a person who really cares that you got your money’s worth. Sure, the 7-4 record isn’t sparkling, but I can’t think of anyone who would want a refund after seeing any of his eight UFC bouts.
So when the UFC announced that Barry would be involved in one of the four nationally televised UFC on FOX bouts this Saturday night in New Jersey against fellow banger Lavar Johnson, it was really no surprise, because “HD” always delivers a fight.
“I think that they keep that in mind whenever they place me where they place me,” said Barry. “The UFC is really strategic about what fights they place where and at what time. And I think it’s a really great chess move to throw me on the cards that they do and position me where I’m at. It’s really great timing and the fight with Lavar and I is an ideal match. I’m still a fan, and this is the kind of fight that I want to see – two guys that come in there that are finishers and don’t go the distance; two guys that stand and bang and are always looking for knockouts. We’re not distance fighters.”
Win or lose, Barry has only heard the final bell once, in a 2011 decision victory over Joey Beltran. California’s Johnson has yet to let a judge get involved in one of his fights. If you’re looking for an excuse to run to the fridge, concession stand, or bathroom, this isn’t the fight to give you that window of opportunity. Frankly, that has to be a lot of pressure on both men, but Barry says that’s not the case.
“I go into the fight with the same amount of pressure as I do any other fight, even the ones that aren’t seen when I’m on the undercard,” he said. “When the fight’s over with, the idea that it was on FOX and the world got to see it will be really cool, and even beforehand it’s really cool, but I don’t go in with more added pressure because it’s on FOX. I’m at maximum pressure anyway before the fight no matter where it’s being seen at.”
That’s because in spite of his always exciting performances, winning still rules the day if you want to climb the heavyweight ladder, and Barry has dropped two of his last three. His last effort was a telling one though, as he survived some rocky moments on the mat against Christian Morecraft, and after showing off improved submission defense, he got up and knocked his opponent out at the 3:38 mark, picking up a Fight of the Night bonus along the way.
Eight days later, he saw Johnson debut in the UFC with a first round KO of his own against the steel-chinned Beltran, and Barry had a feeling the two would eventually meet.
“When he walked in to fight Joey Beltran, I had never seen him fight,” said Barry of Johnson. “I’m not up to date on all the fight shows going on, and I didn’t know who he was. But after he fought Joey, I definitely looked him up. I said this guy’s a threat and this is the kind of guy they’re gonna put me in the ring with one day. Then I got the phone call saying I was fighting him, so I was already doing my homework on him, knowing that he would be the ideal type of matchup for me.”
That’s a deceptive answer though. Is Johnson an ideal matchup because he will stand and trade with the former kickboxer, or because there is no chance (and he’s gone on the record saying it) that he’ll look to take the fight to the mat, leaving Barry some openings to work his own budding ground game? Barry admits that he wants to go shot for shot with Johnson, but that if the opportunity presents itself, he’ll take the fight wherever he’ll have the best chance of winning.
“I’m always going to be expected to stand there and strike, but if the right opportunity is there, this isn’t kickboxing anymore, it’s MMA,” he said. “So will I do it? Yeah, absolutely. If I don’t have to I won’t, and of course I would like to stand there and trade blows until one of us gives up. But if the timing is right and I see the right window for it, will I go for it? Absolutely.”
He’s even lived up to his word that he won’t cut his hair until he submits someone in the Octagon.
“The hair is still not cut,” said Barry. “The sides are getting cut, but the top is still growing. I’m getting closer and closer to Kid n’ Play.”
And he may be getting closer to a haircut as well, as his work with Marty Morgan and the Deathclutch team in Minnesota is making him more and more confident of what he can do if the fight hits the canvas.
“It’s coming. It’s not second nature yet, but it’s getting there,” said Barry of his ground game, but don’t get him wrong; at heart, he’ll always be a striker, and an unpredictable one at that. So he issues a warning: expect the unexpected.
“I’m inventing things when I’m in the Octagon – new punches, new kicks while I’m on the spot,” he said. “So I’m still unpredictable. Everybody knows that I’m gonna be a striker, but you can’t determine where and when they’re gonna come from.”
So what can you depend on when it comes to the 32-year old New Orleans native? That you’ll be entertained.
“I’ve been a performer since Day One, I’ve been a performer since birth,” said Barry. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, just perform. It just so happens that this is my stage. I come in and I have an art that I’m really good at, and I have the ability to make memorable fights, even the ones I lose. Win or lose, you’re gonna know you just watched something and you’re gonna remember it. You know that when I step in there, you’re gonna see something that’s just awe-inspiring, flashy, or just something. I’m coming to perform at all times. Even if a guy who I’m fighting is trying to stalemate me, I can still make it exciting. I can make you fight me back.”