UFC on Versus 4 fight card: Pat Barry vs Cheick Kongo preview

This Sunday night (June 26, 2011), two talented and technical heavyweight strikers will combat each other in the Octagon on the UFC on Versus 4 main card as Pat Barry battles Cheick Kongo.

Pat Barry has one of the UFC's most likable personalities, whether he's pranking fellow fighters, pulling silly stunts or just plain being hilarious, he's always got a smile on his face. He's taken a bit of flack lately for his lack of killer instinct in the cage and he'll be out for blood on Sunday night.

Cheick Kongo hails from France and has migrated over to Wolfslair MMA Academy in the UK alongside top UFC fighters Quinton Jackson and Michael Bisping. Kongo has plateaued recently in his UFC career and he's looking to start climbing that mountain back to the top. 

Will Barry answer his critics with a first-class beat down? Can Kongo get back on track after once being considered one of the best heavyweights in the world? Which premier MMA striker will land the first significant blow?

Let's find out:

Pat Barry

Record:6-2 overall, 3-2 in the UFC

Key Wins: Antoni Hardonk (UFC 104), Joey Beltran (UFC Fight for the Troops 2)

Key Losses: Mirko Filipovic (UFC 115), Tim Hague (UFC 98)

How he got here: Pat Barry started out as a kickboxer in 2002. After a moderately successful 25 fight career, he made the transition to mixed martial arts.

He's still very new to the sport, as evidenced by his first round submission loss to Tim Hague at UFC 98 in just his fifth pro fight.

Barry has gone 2-1 in his last three fights and in his lone loss to Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, he got a bit star-struck after dominating the first round and allowed the veteran to come back and score a submission victory.

In Barry's last fight, he withstood Joey Beltran's clinch attacks and really turned it on late, nearly finishing "The Mexicutioner" for the first time in his career.

"HD" still has a long way to go before he's a well rounded fighter but he's got an exciting striking style and all the other parts of his game are (slowly) improving. He recently teamed up with Brock Lesnar's group of trainers Marty Morgan and some of the elite wrestlers and jiu-jitsu players in Minnesota. That could be a huge factor in the outcome of this match.

How he gets it done: This one is a no-brainer. The Duke Roufus-trained fighter will need to push the pace, keep the fight standing and try to punish Kongo with his kicks.

Barry's punches have continued to progress, he dropped "Cro Cop" twice with his hands in the first round of their fight. He'll be dangerous wherever the fight goes in the stand-up department.

Kongo will likely want to get close or even take the fight to the ground so Barry will have to keep his distance and really try to utilize his footwork. If he can lay into Kongo's legs from afar, he'll increase his odds of winning this fight drastically as well as open up opportunities to aim for the head with his kicks.

Cheick Kongo

Record: 15-6-2 overall, 8-4-1 in the UFC

Key Wins: Mirko Filipovic (UFC 75), Paul Buentello (UFC on Versus 1), Antoni Hardonk (UFC 97)

Key Losses: Cain Velasquez (UFC 99), Frank Mir (UFC 117)

How he got here: While he's mostly been relegated to gatekeeper status, Cheick Kongo was once just one fight away from a title shot. Kongo is highly trained in the striking arts which include Kendo, Karate, kickboxing and Muay Thai. 

Kongo has a big 5-1 stretch in his UFC career from 2007-2009 but eventual UFC champion Cain Velasquez stood in his path. The rising star was nearly knocked out at the beginning of all three rounds by Kongo but would recover and put the Frenchman on his back to pull out a unanimous decision victory.

Since the loss to Cain, Kongo has gone 1-1-1 in the UFC. For some reason, he was infatuated with Travis Browne's shorts in his last fight at UFC 120. His incessant shorts-grabbing eventually cost him a point and what would have been a win was turned into a draw. 

After waiting patiently on the sidelines, the new Wolfslair fighter was finally awarded a tough fight against Pat Barry on the UFC on Versus 4 main card.

How he gets it done: Conventional wisdom says that Cheick Kongo would want to stand and trade with Pat Barry but if he really wants to put the odds in his favor, he'll shoot for the takedown and use his tremendous physical strength to put Barry on his back and keep him there. 

Kongo isn't a great wrestler, but he's shown that it's a part of his overall game that he's put a lot of work into. He was able to wrestle Heath Herring pretty well and he physically dominated Paul Buentello in his last big victory. Pat Barry is not good on the ground at all and if Kongo can put him there, he'll open all kinds of doors for finishing the fight or at least riding out a decision victory.

If the fight is standing, Kongo will need to avoid the low blows and the pants-grabbing. He's built a bad reputation for all the points that he's been deducted throughout his UFC career so the referee may be giving him a short leash. 

Fight "X-Factor:" The "X-Factor" for this bout is Pat Barry's killer instinct. Barry has had opponents hurt in both of his career matches that he's lost but somehow they were able to not only survive, but come back and submit him.

While Cheick Kongo is not the type of fighter that would submit Barry, he does have the physical strength to control "HD" on the ground and potentially earn a stoppage victory by ground and pound.

If Barry has Kongo hurt, he absolutely 100% needs to go for the finish and remove all doubt from the outcome of the fight, otherwise he's leaving a crack open for Kongo to escape and do his thing.

Bottom line: Fans should be salivating at this match-up. Both men are talented strikers and there is a highly likely possibility that we'll get to see a heavyweight stand-up fight that is actually compelling and technical. Joey Beltran - Aaron Rosa this is not. 

If both men stand and bang, this has potential to open some eyes to how striking should look like when two men actually know what they're doing.

Who will come out on top at UFC on Versus 4? Let us know in the comments section below!

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