When Pat Barry gets a question thrown at him, the UFC heavyweight fighter answers it honestly, intelligently and often with a comedic pulse. Things such as “Lavar [Johnson] and I are allergic to jiu-jitsu. We’re also allergic to rounds 2 and 3.”
But when the microphone was not in his hand or the eyes of the crowd focused on him Tuesday at Radio City Music Hall, he was making goofy faces at the fans in the front few rows.
Barry comes off as the most gung-ho fighter in mixed martial arts, and he appeared genuine in his excitement to fight Johnson in UFC on FOX 3 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on May 5. Barry last beat Christian Morecraft by first-round TKO in January, and Johnson became the first fighter to knock out Joey Beltran eight days later.
“Lavar Johnson has beyond heavy hands,” Barry said. “I kicked Joey Beltran in the head five times and he never even blinked. The dude’s fists are the size of my head.”
Johnson, a former Srikeforce heavyweight, understands the situation and what is it at stake in his bout on network television. “This fight right here is going to put me on the map,” Johnson said. “He’s not looking to go to the ground, I’m not either.”
Johnson (16-5) remains a relative unknown to fans of UFC the company, not necessarily fans of the sport of MMA. Barry, however, he’s 7-4 overall, 4-4 in the UFC and no stranger to being part of a main card with great exposure. He fought Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 115 and was on the marquee for several Fight Nights.
Barry said Tuesday he recently returned from Croatia where he trained with Cro Cop for his March 10 kickboxing match against Ray Sefo. Barry comes from a kickboxing background and is prepared for whatever happens when he fights Johnson.
“I’m going to throw everything possible at him,” Barry said. “It doesn’t matter which leg it is. I’m throwing all of them. If he hits me hard enough, I’ll turn into a wrestler real quick. I shook his hand today and I’m like that’s unfair.”