MMA Previews

Pat Barry, Lavar Johnson Preparing for One-Round-and-Done at UFC on Fox 3

Lavar Johnson (James Law/HeavyMMA)

Heavyweights meeting on May 5 card in New Jersey

Pat Barry wants to believe that his next assignment opening the UFC’s third card on the Fox network has nothing to do with his colorful personality. But the fact remains the guy knows how to entertain, and he knows it.

Barry, no stranger to fighting relative giants next to his 5-foot-11 heavyweight frame, gets another one on May 5 when he meets Lavar Johnson, who will have a half-foot of height on him and a few pounds, too. But Barry just wants to think he’s getting a shot on the Fox card because he can fight, too.

“I’d like to hope, at least, that me getting this opportunity doesn’t have anything to do with doing good interviews,” Barry said at a Tuesday news conference for the fight. “Hopefully it has something to do with my fighting ability. But you’ve got to be able to be the entire package – speak, perform, and I think all around, my entire package has given me this opportunity. It has a little to do with everything.”

“Everything,” his last time out in January, resulted in a massive knockout win over Christian Morecraft at UFC on FX: Guillard vs. Miller in Nashville, Tenn. He didn’t get Knockout of the Night thanks to Nick Denis’ 22-second debut win, but Fight of the Night was his. And that’s one thing Barry is always certain to bring – an entertaining fight, even in defeat.

The win over Morecraft snapped a two-fight skid that saw him now infamously lose by knockout to Cheick Kongo last year after appearing to have knocked the French fighter out himself. His fight against Stefan Struve, who had a one-foot height advantage on him, was nothing short of slobberknocker status. And in 2010, his fight with his hero, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, provided some all-time great moments – even though he took plenty of criticism for not finishing Cro Cop when he had the chance. (He broke his hand and foot in the fight and it was all he could do to make it to the third round before being submitted.)

Against Johnson (16-5, 1-0 UFC), Barry (7-4, 4-4 UFC) already is envisioning someone getting his hand raised in the first round. Barry has been to one decision in his career – a win over Joey Beltran in January 2011. And Johnson has been past the first round just four times in 21 fights – and has never gone the distance with 16 wins, 16 stoppages, 14 by knockout.

“Lavar and I are both allergic to jiu-jitsu,” Barry quipped a the press conference in New York for the fight that will take place across the river in East Rutherford, N.J. “We’re also allergic to Rounds 2 and 3.”

Johnson, who made his UFC debut in January after a 3-2 run in Strikeforce, said Barry’s on the money – this thing isn’t going long because they both want to stand and trade.

“This fight is going to put me on the map,” Johnson said. “Pat’s a tough fighter, but I match up very well with him. He’s not looking to go to the ground, and I’m not either. So I’m looking to smash him.”

And that’s one of the things Barry admits he’s worried about. When asked if he was concerned about the heavy hands Johnson used to become the first person to knock out Beltran, he thought back on his own fight against Beltran.

“Lavar Johnson has beyond heavy hands,” Barry said. “He was able to knock out Joey Beltran, who has never been knocked out and never been knocked down in his career. I kicked Joey Beltran in the head five times (and couldn’t knock him down.) I never doubted myself until that fight. Does (Johnson) hit hard? I guarantee he does – he’s huge. Do I hit hard? Yeah. I was there in Chicago, and as he was walking out, I was thinking, ‘That looks like someone they’re going to put me in with.’ I know I (hit hard), but I promise you he does. His fists are the size of my head. We’re going to punch each other a lot.”

UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller takes place May 5 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. Tickets for the general public are on sale now. The main event features a lightweight contenders fight between Nate Diaz and Jim Miller. The co-main event will be a welterweight bout between Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks. And middleweights Alan Belcher and Rousimar Palhares also fight on the four-fight Fox broadcast.

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