Hailing from the Crescent City, UFC Heavyweight Pat Barry is one of the most underrated fighters in MMA. Shorter than your average heavyweight and luckier than your average person, the Pat Barry story is truly cinematic. Cue the Zydeco accordion bellows and start throwing beads because when his fight against Dutch kick boxer, Antoni Hardonk at UFC 104 commences, New Orleans is definitely in the building.
“People got to hate you, this is why I learned doing the fighting sports; people are going to hate you no matter what, it don’t matter how well that you do. I’ve had a 1-second knockout and I still heard people talk crazy about how my haircut was or how awful my shorts was,” says an ever-animated Barry. “People look at my measurements and just assume I’m really small and they might be right, they might be right maybe I am too small but if I punch you in the head you ain’t going to think I’m too small anymore.”
Barry lives by the mantra, “Hype or Die,” a saying that has its roots from his kick boxing beginnings.
“Hype or Die is a concept that my brother and cousin and I came up with on a road trip once. The whole idea is give it everything you’ve got or don’t even bother I mean how many people half-ass things, they start something and don’t go through with it or they say they’re going to do this and they don’t give it 100%. That’s what Hype or Die is, man just put your gloves on and swing for the fences every time or really don’t bother don’t waste your time.”
Coming from the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans this ‘9th Ward Solider’ counts the city as the largest influence to his athleticism and personality. The former high school gymnast turned collegiate bowler was always walking around secretly desiring to be a ninja. With the bayou, oppressive humidity and the mist of hedonism permeating the city, Barry began his transformation while attending the purple and gold, LSU.
“New Orleans is the greatest country in the world man; everybody is like, ‘that’s a city.’ We’re just a totally different type of person down there, we’ve got a different mentality, different personality, the air smells different; everything about the city is just somewhere you’ve never been before. (When I started kickboxing) I really quickly got very good at it. I dedicated everything I had to it; I was in the gym all day and night as soon as school was over with. Everywhere I went I dreamt about it, slept about it, thought about it so I really just trained and submerged myself completely in it.”
After compiling 29 amateur bouts in 7 months and traveling the country signing his name on every kickboxing tournament list, Barry received the invite to train in Holland in the VAS Gym (the most legendary gym in kickboxing) under K-1 champion, Ernesto Hoost. After training with ‘Mr. Perfect’ and his next opponent, Antoni Hardonk for 5 years and compiling a world-class kickboxing record of 18-6-1, Barry eventually left Holland due to a rift with what he thought was his mentor. Feeling like he was a just a training partner for the other fighters that Barry feels, Hoost thought were better fighters, this fight means more than another ‘W’ for Barry it’s redemption.
“This fight means more to me than just going and getting a win because this is almost like a, oh you thought I couldn’t make it and now look at what I’m doing. You didn’t have the confidence in me and now look at what is happening.”
When the levees broke in New Orleans during the worst storm in U.S. History, Pat Barry experienced all the family separation and total upheaval of life that millions of others were dealt. The same can be said of his departure from Holland and his kickboxing dreams, however, at that point in solitude he transformed from the want to be the greatest kick boxer in the world to overall fighter and the mixed martial arts became a beacon of hope. Making the careful transition, Barry eventually made his way into the UFC and now faces his former teammate and mentor as an opponent. When the cage door opens it will be the second coming of Katrina for Barry. When the cage door closes and the levees yet again break, the outcome can only be categorized as an MMA maelstrom, the worst storm we all have ever seen.
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