UFC's Barry fights for respect

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:32 PM ET

TORONTO - Pat Barry just can’t seem to win.

Not when it comes to fighting, mind you. The dangerous heavyweight striker has six MMA victories to his name and an additional 13 in kickboxing competition.

Rather, no matter the outcome of his fights, there are countless critics waiting to tell him exactly what he did wrong and how he should have fought.

“(Fighters) can’t win for nothing,” Barry said on a recent UFC conference call. “Even with a win we lose. I’ve got a (49-second) knockout where the ref said fight, I threw a high kick, knocking the guy out and people still got on the Internet saying I have the stupidest haircut they had ever seen or they hate my shorts. We can’t win ever.”

Despite his stellar stand-up game, Barry’s had his ups and downs since joining the UFC, compiling a not-quite-impressive 3-3 record in the promotion.

When he lost via submission to Mirko (Cro Crop) Filipovic last year, people told him he was blinded by hero worship. Then in June, when he pounced to put the finishing touches on a dazed Cheick Kongo, only to get knocked out by a couple of Hail Mary punches, those same individuals berated him for being too reckless.

“If I punched (Kongo) in the head and knocked him out, people would say my ground game sucks,” Barry said. “If I submit somebody — I guarantee this now — the day that I submit someone in the UFC, people are going to sit there and say, ‘But I thought you were supposed to be this bad-ass striker. Why the hell are you doing groundwork? We want to see knockouts.’ You can’t win, no matter what.”

As Barry prepares for his co-main event bout against Stefan Struve at UFC on Versus 6 Saturday, he knows he’ll likely hear some form of second-guessing on Sunday.

But that doesn’t affect his mindset going in. Barry admitted it’s simply a part of the job that all fighters have to learn to accept.

“If you lose a fight — that’s it; you lost,” Barry said. “You either learn from it and get better or just go sit in a chair and rot away. There is winning and then there are learning experiences — that’s it. We win or we learn. The only way you really lose is if you come out of an experience and you didn’t gain anything from it. If you wake up tomorrow and are the same guy you are today, you are not advancing, you are not growing, you are not learning.

“Sometimes you’re going to lose; you can’t win all the time. Eventually you fall, you’ve got to lose. That’s one of the best ways to grow and get better. So if I lose a fight it sucks — I don’t want that to happen — but as long as I know I went out there and fought my heart out (I’m happy).”

If Barry wants to avoid another learning experience, he’s got to overcome a huge size gap. Struve is 6-foot-11 with an 83-inch reach, while Barry is 5-foot-11 and has a 74.5-inch reach.

Despite being much shorter than his opponent, Barry feels this will be just another day at the office.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a deal in this fight,” Barry said. “It all depends on who the short guy is, too. In the case of Stefan, he’s accustomed to training with really short guys. Everybody in the world is really short standing next to him.

“So you can have great range, but if the person across from you is accustomed to that, they could void each other out or it could work out really well.

“This could turn out to be a really awesome fight where, when it comes down to it, we might cancel each other out in a way that might take a long time for this fight to get finished. Or maybe he can keep me on the end of a jab the way people eventually started keeping Mike Tyson away from them with a jab.”

The argument can be made that Struve is still figuring out how to keep shorter fighters at bay. He’s been burned in the past by guys who have managed to get inside his reach. Roy Nelson put him away with a huge overhand right in March 2010, while Travis Browne delivered a stunning Superman punch knockout in July. Though to Struve’s credit, he was frustrating Browne before the fight-ending shot.

Struve feels he’s finally starting to put the pieces together and intends to make an example of Barry.

“Of course I’m a lot taller than he is and I intend to use that reach to keep him on the outside and pick him apart,” Struve said. “We’ll see, man. I like to fight, engage and brawl, too. We’ll see what happens Saturday. I think if I can use my reach the right way, it will be an advantage for me.

“The last fight against (Browne), I made a stupid mistake of coming in for a strike as he was coming in for that punch. I should have used my reach in a better way in some other fights, too. But we’ve been working on that and I’ve improved a lot. I’m always working on getting better at that, getting on the outside and just using my reach the way I should. I think I’m really starting to pick it up and I plan to show it on Saturday.”


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