If there’s one thing you can say about UFC heavyweight Pat Barry beyond his fight skills, it’s that he’s a hell of a nice guy.
During his Q&A appearance prior to UFC on Versus 3 in Louisville, Ky., Barry had a room full of fans laughing and joking along with him as he told stories and answered questions.
At the UFC Fighter Summit, Barry somehow managed to strip down to his underwear and sit quietly during one of the talks being given, while fighters all around him chuckled and couldn’t help but laugh at the gentle giant’s antics.
He even famously knocked down his idol Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic when they fought, and helped him back up.
Yep, there’s no denying that Pat Barry is a nice guy, but that’s also his problem.
See, Barry recently started working full time with a new camp in Minnesota. A camp full of heavyweight wrestlers who are probably just as nice as he is off the mat, but when it comes time to spar and train, they’d just as soon step on your face as to look at you.
His new head coach Marty Morgan knew that he could unleash Barry’s inner animal, he just had to approach it the right way.
“Out here more than anything else, what it seems like Coach Morgan is doing more than anything else is he is getting me to develop an aggression level that he says he sees inside of me that I haven’t let out,” Barry told MMAWeekly Radio. “He’s like ‘you’re in the ring and you’re playing the game of fighting very well, you play the game of fighting excellently, but you’re not trying to make a meal out of anyone in there. You’re going to win the game, but you’re not going to take this person home and feed your family,’ and I was like damn, alright.”
Barry understood immediately what Morgan was talking about. He didn’t realize it at the time, but Barry’s tendencies to be a nice guy in the ring started all the way back when he was in his earliest days as a kickboxer.
“My very first kickboxing match ever I fought a guy named David Roshon, and when I punched him in the stomach, he hunched over, and I put my hand on his back and asked him if he was alright. Hey man, you okay? He almost uppercut me and knocked me out, so I hit him in the stomach again, he hunches back over, and I’m like, I’m just trying to see if you’re alright. That’s the habits you have,” Barry said.
When he first started working with the camp prior to Brock Lesnar’s title fight against Cain Velasquez, Barry noticed there was a real mental difference working with the crew comprised mostly of grizzled wrestlers.
Barry was a nice guy for a while, but now that mentality has changed.
“It’s just been nice guy Pat, play the game really well, make sure you can stand up and get up and walk out after. Real wrestlers are just rough. I’m like, hey man you’re arm’s broken and they look at me like, yeah that’s fine, don’t worry about it,” Barry said.
“We fight the way we train. That’s a fact. We don’t train the way we fight, we fight the way we train. However you train that’s how you’re going to come out and fight.”
In the past, Barry has had problems fighting heavyweights to work with, but an even bigger problem are heavyweights that can take his vicious leg kicks or power punches, that don’t get up and walk away from him for good.
That mentality caused him to start pulling punches, not hitting guys with all his force, and not truly being prepared for another fighter stepping in the Octagon opposite him, ready to tear his head off.
“Most anybody that fights has run across this problem from before where if you do let go on somebody, either they’re going to get upset with you or they just don’t come back for the rest of the week. That’s always been my problem as long as I’ve been back here stateside. I might throw a punch or kick at somebody not necessarily to finish them, but at least to put some kind of intent on it and the next thing you know, they don’t come back,” Barry explained.
“I found a group of guys who are big of size and then I can let go on these guys, and they’re fine with that. But I haven’t done that in such a long time that it gets hard in training, and it gets mentally tough because it’s like, ‘well, I could pull my glove out, but if I pull my glove out it’s going to rip your ear off,’ and then they sit there and go, ‘well, I’ve got another ear, so why didn’t you do it?'”
As the training camp wore on, Barry noticed that his killer instinct developed. Like a lion stalking an antelope on the Discovery Channel, Barry stopped smiling and checking on his teammates, and went for the kill.
It’s that very switch that Barry believes will carry him to victory this weekend when he faces fellow striker Cheick Kongo at UFC on Versus 4 in Pittsburgh. The reason he knows he has to have that killer instinct is because Kongo will be doing the same exact thing.
“Cheick Kongo’s going to try to do whatever it takes to finish me. He’s not going to do whatever just to win, just to be a ‘C’ student. You shouldn’t be just a ‘C’ student or a ‘D’ student when it comes to the game of fighting. You can’t,” Barry stated.
“We’ve got to come in there and we’ve got to finish fights. Because we all have to take responsibility for everything we do. If you step in the Octagon you’ve got to be ready for the worst case scenario every time. Cause there is the possibility of death, there’s the possibility of being maimed and being hurt for a very long time, there’s a possibility of anything and everything going on. When you step in there you’ve got to accept that, and you’ve got to know that could happen. If I hit him, and he don’t walk out, that’s his fault.”
It might be an odd sight on Sunday night to see a scowl on the face of Pat Barry instead of his signature smile, but if he lays out Cheick Kongo with a high kick or a nasty punch, his smile will surely return.
It will just be for a different reason this time.