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Mike Schmitz: Pat Barry vs. Stefan Struve, a UFC fight where someone truly will get KO’d

By Zach Arnold | August 1, 2011

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Although he was on the losing end, stout heavyweight Pat Barry (6-3) may never be part of a fight quite like his last bout against Cheick Kongo at UFC on Versus 4. But if there’s one matchup with the potential to rival UFC’s frontrunner for fight of the year, it’s Barry’s upcoming matchup with Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve (21-5). Two exciting fighters with completely different sizes and skill-sets coming to blows make this a must-see matchup.

Gigantic vs. vertically challenged, striking vs. submissions – grab your popcorn, this one could end quickly. Standing at 5-foot-11, Barry represents the shortest UFC heavyweight. He overcomes his size and reach disadvantage with his lethal leg kicks developed during his K-1 days.

Barry’s knockout potential and larger-than-life personality has made him one of UFC’s most popular fighters, despite his 3-3 record with the promotion. The 6-foot-11 Struve, on the other hand, is by far the tallest fighter in the heavyweight ranks. The 23-year-old Skyscraper makes his money on the ground, with 14 of his 21 total wins coming by way of submission. He’s known for his submission prowess, but Struve (83-inch reach) holds a dominant reach advantage over every fighter he faces, especially the shorter Barry (74-inch reach).

Despite their height discrepancies and differences in style, both fighters are looking to bounce back from losses after Kongo stunned Barry and UFC newcomer Travis Browne knocked out Struve in the first round of UFC 130. Kongo stopped Barry cold with two right hands after HD had the Frenchman all-but out. But although Barry let a big win slip away, Struve was dominated from start to finish by a less-experienced Browne who was fighting in only his second UFC bout.

As far as records are concerned, Barry is more so on the hot seat because a loss would put HD at 1-3 in his last four fights. Although Dana White called his performance against Kongo the best of his career, he still needs to get back into the win column to back up his popularity with performance. A loss certainly wouldn’t force him out of the UFC due to his exciting fighting style and likability, but a win is necessary if he wants to be a contender, not just an entertainer.

The Dutchman, on the other hand, is 5-3 at the UFC ranks but still hasn’t shown he can hang with upper tier fighters thanks to losses to Junior dos Santos and Roy Nelson, neither of which left the first round. Before his last bout, Struve had his hand raised in five of his last six fights. But in his losses, Struve’s looked underwhelming considering his physical tools, letting his opponents get inside of him rather than using his length to his advantage.

This is where Barry can capitalize. He holds a striking advantage over the lanky Skyscraper, and if he can eliminate Struve’s length by getting inside of him, this one could be over early. But that’s not Barry’s only opportunity for stoppage. Due to Struve’s massive height, Barry can use his tree trunk leg power to chop down Struve with low leg kick after low leg kick. His leg kicks are by far his biggest strength, and he has a ton of room to operate given Struve’s height. If Barry defeats Skyscraper, he’ll have overcome one of the most bizarre matchups in UFC history, while getting back on track in the win column. Struve could use a win to show he’s not just a 6-foot-11 pushover who won’t reach his crazy potential.

While both fighters could use a win, I’d give the nod to Barry in this one. If he can avoid Struve’s ground game and reach advantage, he should have his hand raised and avenge the Kongo loss. Barry would then move back up to the Kongo, Matt Mitrione, Nelson range. Whether Barry chops down Struve with his leg kicks or Struve uses his superior reach to get to Barry, one thing is certain – this will undoubtedly be the single most awkward staredown ever.

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