It’s not often that people want to fight their heroes. Pat Barry does, though, and he gets to on Saturday.
For Pat “HD” Barry, that time might come this Saturday night in Vancouver, Canada at UFC 115, when he faces off against Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic in a heavyweight bout. As a legend in Pride, a young and impressionable Barry used to watch CroCop and idolized him.
“I had a poster of Mirko on my wall. He was in my top-five list of scariest guys on the planet,” Barry said. “This was before I had even started training, when my brother and I would just sit around watching K-1 fights, and watching kickboxing. This was a guy that I idolized.”
Filipovic has never met Barry, but he was diplomatic.
“I never met Pat, but definitely I like the guy. Not because he said that I was one of his favorite fighters,” CroCop said. “Not because he said – I don’t know if he was joking or not – that he wants autograph. I like him because he’s very polite.”
In a sport built on mutual respect–most of the time, at least–it says a lot about the two fighters. And if there is modesty in his voice, it is because Barry is a comes from a modest background. Before he entered the martial arts seven years ago, he was delivering pizzas in his hometown of New Orleans. His interest in the martial arts stems from many of the same things most adolscent young men enjoy–movies and video games.
“Street Fighter. When they came out with that video game it was insane,” Barry said. “I’d stay up all night playing that game then go to school. I’d be falling asleep there then 2:00 rolled around and I was out of there and back at home playing. I was like, idiotic about that game. But also Jean Claude Van Damme movies.”
In fact, Barry has been “Serving” people on the Internet, treating them to hilarious photos of him flexing and posing (in the absolute ugliest shorts no matter the weather), doing his best Van Damme impression next to random people at random times, including UFC president Dana White.
“It was at the UFC fighters summit last year and Dana and the Fertitta brothers were all sitting at dinner,” Barry said, chuckling. “So one of my teammates tell me that Dana’s down there–so I strip down throw on the shorts and did it. ‘Dana, you’ve just been served.’ He thought it was hilarious.”
Barry, 30, said while he is excited and nervous at the prospect of facing off against CroCop a fight is still a fight. A solid 5’11”, Barry still has a significant height disadvantage to the 6’2″ CroCop. With head kicks being one of CroCop’s specialties, Barry obviously knows he has to be wary of a foot flying towards his face first.
“Look, everybody’s taller than me, so that won’t be odd or strange or out of the ordinary for me,” Barry laughed. “But I’m nervous before every fight. I am just not a tough guy; I don’t go around eating raw meat or drinking blood or anything like that. I’ve never been in a street fight. So for me anytime that I fight, every fight is the biggest fight of my life. Except this one against CroCop, is like five fights built into one.”
Barry’s game is built heavily on Muay Thai kickboxing and Sanshou, so he knows he will have to take advantage of any mistake CroCop makes on the feet.
“He’s a good fighter, good striker. That’s what I like,” says Filipovic. “I like to fight with strikers. I don’t like to fight (ground fighters), not because I cannot handle, but I prefer to stay in a stand-up position. Patrick will stay in the stand-up position. It will be a good stand-up war, and I think audiences will be very satisfied with the fight.”
But that doesn’t mean Barry, who lost his first UFC to Tim Hague via submission, won’t take the fight to the ground, inexperience be damned.
“Believe me, if you see him cross me hard enough or misses with a kick, you will see my awesome white-belt jiu-jitsu come out, man,” Barry said.
Barry’s knockout of kickboxer Antony Hardonk put him on the map. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Admittedly broke, he was living off of ketchup and rice. This is nothing new for Barry, who says “he can live off of almost nothing”
“It was a bad financial decision and I had to get through it,” Barry said. “Put it to you this way, I love my family and friends and when one of them says they need my help, I will help them no matter what. It’s just that the return for that was….delayed. But after I knocked out Hardonk and got the $25,000 purse, I was back on my feet. The timing was perfect.”
Though it has become chic to dismiss CroCop as being over the hill, Barry would beg to differ. After all, though he respects the legend, he still wants to defeat the legend.
“Anybody that says Crocop is out of his prime can feel free to fight him for me Saturday,” Barry said. “I don’t mind.”