This is the life of Pat Barry: Train. Travel. Train. Fight. Travel. Train. Repeat.

ďAll the moving around sucks,Ē said the heavyweight up and comer, who returns to action this Friday night in Nashville to face Christian Morecraft. ďAs soon as you get comfortable somewhere, you gotta move somewhere else, and that part is definitely not fun.Ē

A New Orleans native, Barry has trained in the Netherlands, Croatia, China, Milwaukee, and now Minnesota, home to the DeathClutch team that formerly was the domain of the now retired Brock Lesnar. Itís part of the job if you want to get better and if you want to Ė like former kickboxer Barry Ė develop the parts of the game you havenít already got a good handle on. So that means learning new towns and new directions, and meeting new people in between sessions where you judge progress by the amount of times someone isnít forcing you to tap out.

ďI would like to believe that thereís one person that knows everything and thatís just not true,Ē said the 32-year old Barry. ďThereís no Yoda. You gotta be mobile, you gotta be able to move around, and not everybody knows everything that you need to know. You learn a lot from going different places.Ē

Itís the rite of passage for most mixed martial artists, but where Barry differs is that every day is injected with plenty of humor and light-hearted looks at life in and out of the fight game. ďHDĒ is the polar opposite of dour, always ready with a smile or quip in the midst of the most trying day. Itís a personality that has made him one of the most popular fighters in the game, and not only among fans, but among his peers. To even go one further, Barry has become fast friends with a lot of the men he fought, a bizarre concept to many, but not him.

ďTo me, itís knowing what the game entails,Ē he said. ďThis is a full contact game of chess which happens to entail striking and hitting each other in the head and in the body or submitting each other. Those are the rules of the game, and if you canít accept that, then youíre in the wrong sport. I get into the Octagon and I can be friendly with all these guys beforehand, and Iím friendly with them during and friendly with them after. I donít have to go into the ĎI hate you, now Iíve got to kill youí mentality. I donít dislike anybody, especially total strangers; I donít have a reason to hate a stranger. Some guys need to hate your guts in order to hurt you. Maybe that just makes me crazy, because we can be best friends and Iíll still punch you in the head if we step into the Octagon together. But thatís just because I know this is what the game entails. Thatís like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley getting on the court to play one on one and Jordan deciding that heís not gonna score on Barkley. What? The game is to outscore the other guy; the game is to win. It just so happens that this game that weíre playing consists of physical contact with each other. If you donít know that weíre about to hit each other really hard, then you havenít done youíre research and I canít feel too bad for you.Ē

And Barryís been on both sides of that equation, sometimes in the same fight. He dropped Mirko Cro Cop before getting submitted late in their fight. He pounded Joey Beltran with leg kicks for 15 minutes in their bout. He nearly knocked out Cheick Kongo before getting knocked out himself seconds later. And he nearly slammed Stefan Struve through the Octagon mat before getting caught by submission in their Washington D.C. battle last October. Win or lose, he came to fight, his opponents did the same, and they shook hands when it was all over. Itís all part of the game according to him, so heís baffled when training partners wonít fight each other outside of the gym.

ďWhen youíre training together, you go at each other a lot more intense than you do when youíre at a fight because youíre in the comfort of thereís no one watching, weíre just at practice, weíve got big gloves on,Ē said Barry. ďSo when guys are training together, they beat the s**t out of each other a lot worse than they do in an actual fight, but when it comes to fight time, theyíre like Ďno man, I canít do it.í Wait, you can kick my ass for free, but you wonít do it and get paid?í That donít make sense.Ē

When youíre talking about things that donít make sense, exhibit one may be Barryís 2011 campaign in the UFC. Kicking things off in January with an impressive three round win over Beltran for his first decision victory, Barry then engaged in the most exciting 2:39 fight youíve seen in a long time in June, as he nearly finished off Kongo before a miraculous comeback gave the Frenchman the win. In October, he put together another memorable bout against the 6-foot-11 Struve, yet got caught again, this time via submission. On paper, a 1-2 record doesnít look too great, but in terms of performance, Barry didnít disappoint anyone. He still canít explain the last 12 months though.

ďLast year is definitely a mystery,Ē said Barry. ďI know that anything can happen, Iím always aware of that, and I know that anything is possible. But I still canít figure out what happened in the Cheick Kongo fight. Still. The Stefan Struve fight, and every fight that Iíve lost, Iíve legitimately lost. Thereís no Ďwell the ref should have stopped it,í or Ďit was because I got poked in the eye.í I lost, I was beaten, nothing else happened other than the other guy was better. The Cheick Kongo fight, I donít have any explanation as to how he, out of nowhere, punched me in the head and I fell out. Struve, even though it was a submission loss, if you actually know me and know what youíre looking at, I gained in a way because I was able to avoid three submissions in a row. It just so happened that the fourth one caught me. (Laughs) So all in all, that was an improvement. And that was a fight that I was winning and just lost. Somewhere on the internet, somebody wrote, and I swear it was the funniest thing ever, Ďif Pat Barry is kicking your ass, youíre definitely gonna win.í (Laughs) I couldnít even get mad at that, and I had to show it to my mom. It was the realest thing ever.Ē

Despite his humble stance and self-effacing humor, Barry does know that if he wants to get 2012 off to a good start, he canít snatch defeat from the jaws of victory anymore. Thatís why a Louisiana native has been braving a Minnesota winter to work on his wrestling and jiu-jitsu with a group that had no issue with throwing him around in order to get him better. And even though Lesnarís gone, there were plenty of big bodies left to get him ready for the 6-foot-6, 260 pound Morecraft.

ďThe bulk of the work was already done,Ē said Barry of the effect Lesnarís December 30th retirement had on the late stages of his training camp. ďWe were training for my fight and Brockís fight for quite some time now. The only problem with his fight being so close to mine is that thereís one less body to train with. But weíve still got Jon Madsen, Cole Konrad, Chris Tuchscherer, a bunch of giant wrestlers who Iíve been moving around with every day ever since Brockís fight.Ē

But with all this focus on ground work, is there a tendency to stop working on his bread and butter Ė striking?

ďYou never stop getting better at striking,Ē he said. ďThatís always something thatís going to have to be practiced and learned and trained. Itís repetition, repetition, repetition. Thereís not just one facet to this fight game. There are multiple things. So being a striker and now having to learn jiu-jitsu and learn wrestling to get better at everything else, itís only natural that one section is gonna have to suffer a little bit in order to gain more experience at the other. I still strike with these guys, and they brought in other guys who are strikers and kickboxers and big tall guys that do a little bit of everything, but itís only natural that I would have to back off my striking a little bit in order to climb in for the wrestling and the grappling.Ē

Yet at the same time, while showing off his main discipline to wrestlers looking to improve, the K-1 vet also gains a new appreciation for, and sharpens, the fundamentals of the striking game.

There are a lot of guys who are coming up in the striking game and guys who have been around for a while, theyíve evolved to a point where theyíre doing splitting somersaults, front flips, and handstands and what not, and they tend to neglect a 1-2,Ē said Barry. ďIíve never had a problem with that. Iíve always been a fan of guys like Ernesto (Hoost) and Peter Aerts. Peter Aerts, who in 25 years in the game, is still beating people with left jab, right low kick. This is basic, Day One striking, and itís always gonna be a dominant, big factor. You can be flashy, but if you can do all these crazy things and donít know how to throw just a jab, that can be dangerous and unhealthy.Ē

In other words, itís like the old Green Bay Packers sweep from the Vince Lombardi years. You know itís coming, but itís so well-executed that you still canít stop it.

ďItís like my low kick,Ē said Barry. ďYou know Iím gonna kick you in the leg. Everybody knows itís coming, they know itís gonna happen, but thereís not much that can be done about it.Ē

And when it hits, he once described it as being like ďstepping on a land mine.Ē But this is Pat Barry, and after he hits you with a few of them, heís more than willing to show you how he did it.

ďIíve had fights where afterward, when the fightís over with, weíre back in the hotel lobby, practicing this low kick and going about the whole thing,Ē he laughs.

Donít expect him to ever change a thing either, whether itís his personality or his fighting style.

ďEvery time I step in there, it doesnít matter who it is, every fight that Iíve had, Iíve been the one walking forward,Ē said Barry. ďEvery time. I donít retreat. Iím always the one walking forward, going at the guy. Itís not a macho ĎIím fearless, Iím not scared of nobodyí thing; I know that anybody can win and anybody can lose. I have faith in my preparation, and so when the bell rings, Iím just gonna come at you and hopefully Iím gonna hit you and youíre gonna fall down. But you never know, I could submit you. Anything could happen.Ē

Thatís probably why we wonít stop watching.




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