After an exhilarating run in the UFC heavyweight division, which included two Fights of the Night and two Knockouts of the Night awards, Pat ‘HD’ Barry (16-5-1, 10 KO’s) recently elected to return to his roots and the sport of kickboxing.
Barry’s popularity with fans has always stemmed from two things: his likeable personality, and his fearsome striking ability.
His dynamic kicking and punching has thrilled audiences around the world, and this weekend, live on SPIKE TV, he brings it to Denver via a spot on the GLORY 16 DENVER main card.
For Barry it is a homecoming in more ways than one. Though he was raised in New Orleans, these days he resides in Denver and trains at the city’s famous Grudge Training Center, so he has home field advantage.
On another level, this weekend’s fight is Barry coming back to what he truly loves: the art and sport of kickboxing. It was kickboxing that first drew him into the world of martial arts and professional fighting and, he says, it is in kickboxing where he will spend the rest of his career.
“Kickboxing is all I wanted to do and its all I ever want to do from now,” beams the likeable New Orleans man a few days out from his fight with Zack Mwekassa (10-1, 9 KO’s), a professional boxer and kickboxer from Congo, Africa.
“I was in MMA for like seven years and I trained in wrestling and jiu-jitsu and stuff, but I never loved it. I always loved kickboxing, that’s what’s in my heart, and its what got me into martial arts and fighting.”
Mwekassa isn’t a name that many fight fans in the US will know, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous. Far from it, in fact.
A quick flick through YouTube throws up enough video footage to show that the African has high-level boxing skill and serious power behind it. His KO rates in his professional boxing kickboxing wins both run at over 90%.
Barry is the favorite according to the bookmakers, but he cautions against setting too much store in their predictions. Literally one clean punch from Mwekassa could end the night for Barry in an instant.
“Man, I’m telling you, every fight is 50-50, I’ve always believed that. Once that bell rings, anything can happen. A fight is a fight. And this dude is dangerous, he’s won titles in boxing and he’s knocked a lot of people out,” he says.
Also worth noting is that Barry’s appearance on Saturday’s SPIKE TV card may not be limited to a single bout. His fight with Mwekassa is a reserve match for the evening’s four-man Heavyweight Contender Tournament.
The tournament winner will be dubbed ‘The Contender’ and will be handed a spot in the World Championship Tournament later this year. That tournament will feature the division’s highest-ranked fighters and will have the World Title on the line for the winner.
If injury prevents either of the two victorious semi-finalists this weekend going forward to fight in the final, the winner of Barry-Mwekassa will be called up. Barry could well find his GLORY debut consisting of two fights in one night.
Cor Hemmers is the matchmaker and Head of Talent Operations (recruitment) for the organization.
“You’ve got a classic match here - two very aggressive fighters with a lot of finishes between them, one a puncher, one a kicker. It’s style vs. style,” he says.
“And you’ve got two fighters coming from different disciplines as well - Barry has been fighting in MMA for seven years while Mwekassa has been boxing professionally.
“Both guys have adjustments to make, so its interesting. To be honest, I can’t see this fight going more than one round or two.”
The four fighters taking part in the Heavyweight Contender Tournament are all proven knockout artists. Sergey Kharitonov (5-3, 3 KO’s), Errol Zimmerman (101-11-1, 42 KO’s), ‘Banging’ Ben Edwards (36-9-3, 32 KO’s) and Anderson ‘Braddock’ Silva (37-10-1, 24 KO’s) have cumulatively dispatched a huge number of opponents.
Whichever two fighters do face off in the final, whether Barry is one of them or not, the odds of a brutal finish are very, very high. GLORY fighters in general tend to put their opponents away and that is especially true of the heavyweights.
Also on this weekend’s card is a welterweight title fight. Two technicians are contesting the vacant belt and it could go either way. Marc De Bonte (86-11-1, 28 KO’s) is a Muay Thai fighter with a high finish rate, while Karapet Karapetyan (43-9-2, 4 KO’s) is a high-speed grinder who tends to rack up points with quick combinations.
The pair is closely matched and the win will come down to whoever is able to impose their game on the other. The victor won’t have too much time to enjoy his belt though - Canada’s Joe Valtellini and world-ranked #1 Nieky Holzken are both ready to challenge the winner as soon as he lays his hands on the belt.