Pat Barry training with Brock Lesnar's team Deathclutch for Cheick Kongo fight at UFC on Versus 4

via www.mmaconvert.com

And that's because Cheick Kongo is no longer an elite striker in the heavyweight division.

This according to his UFC on Versus 4 opponent Pat Barry, who the French fighting sensation will take on this coming Sunday night, June 26, 2011, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Here's what "HD" had to say about it to Heavy.com:

"I would love to be able to say that we'll see the Cheick Kongo from [before he had back surgery]; the one who would stand there and be the heavyweight striker that he's known to be. But he's turned into a ground-and-pound guy. I wouldn't say he's an elite striker in the heavyweight division anymore. He's a guy that's going to rush you into the cage, pull your feet out from under you, sit on top of you until you either quit or the ref stops the fight. That's what he's been doing his last few fights."

Sorry, big man, but this is a "what have you done for me lately" kind of sport and grapplers can't be strikers, right?

Even if that is a somewhat silly and potentially dangerous assumption on Barry's part, he's treating this fight as though he's not up against a heavy-hitting knockout artist.

This is evidenced by the fact that he's now spending increasing amounts of time with the Deathclutch camp, shoring up his wrestling game with the beasts (like Brock Lesnar and Cole Konrad) up in Minnesota.

And these monsters don't play around.

"These dudes out here, they're wrestlers. They pick you up and powerbomb you on the ground on top of some dumbbells and that's totally normal. They're completely okay with that. POW! Right on the rack of dumbbells, and it's like, `What's the matter? Did the dumbbells get hurt?' ... Cole Konrad is a monster. Brock Lesnar is humungous in the gym. Jon Madsen; these guys are all real live wrestlers, all heavyweights, who all do jiu-jitsu also. So what does Pat Barry need in his repertoire? I need heavyweight training partners, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu, and now I'm training with a bunch of heavyweight wrestlers who all do jiu-jitsu. You can't get any better than that. That's the exact concoction that I was needing to further myself."

Smart decision.

Barry has roots in kickboxing, as that is the field he was in before making his way to mixed martial arts competition. He hooked up with famed coach Duke Roufus, who has complemented Pat's athletic ability by honing his stand-up skills to levels not often seen in the heavyweight division.

Fat lot of good it does him if he's constantly on his back, fending off vicious ground-n-pound.

That's where the Deathclutch fellas come into play. And really, what better place to reinvent one's self as a wrestler than a gym full of collegiate champions.

Then again, Barry was partially responsible for Lesnar's striking game heading into his title defense against Cain Velasquez last year.

Result: disaster.

It hasn't stopped the team from welcoming him back and getting his game up for what could be an extended run in the suddenly not so deep 265-pound division.

Is this exactly what Barry needed to become a real force in the UFC? And is he right when he says Kongo is no longer an elite heavyweight striker?

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