Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
It's often said that football is a game of inches, and that may be so. But if that's the case, fighting is a sport of centimeters.
The slightest mistake, even the smallest misstep, is open to exploitation from a highly trained and dangerous individual that is intent on causing serious harm.
There is truly no room for error when one is literally battling to remain conscious.
Now imagine a scenario in which you've been "rocked," a condition characterized by one's inability to regain their equilibrium, all while operating on pure instinct thanks to their brain being halfway shut off.
Taking it even further, you're essentially a helpless fish in deep water with a gigantic shark chasing you because he smells your blood and is taking every measure to finish the job.
In this scenario, how likely is it the fish will not only survive the attack but come back to take out the shark?
Answer: not very.
In the wake of Kongo's improbable win, fans were quick to play the association game and the fight that immediately came to mind was Scott Smith's memorable knockout of Pete Sell back in Nov. 2006.
But how do the two stack up against one another? Let's compare:
We'll start with a look at Smith's knockout of Sell, which occurred on Nov. 11, 2006 at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 4 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sell lands a monster left hand straight on the floating rib, doubling Smith over in obvious and palpable pain. While Smith is hunched over, lamenting his misfortune, Sell moves in for the killshot, as it looks readily available.
Unfortunately for Pete, Scott still has his wits about him and upon noticing his charging foe, unleashes a crushing straight right hand that completely obliterates "Drago's" chin, putting him out with one solid punch.
Hands up, chin down, ladies and sirs.
Further adding to the memory was Smith's post-stoppage actions. Instead of celebrating his incredible win, he rolled over and continued clutching his abdomen, wincing in still obvious discomfort.
Now let's look at Kongo's knockout of Barry (via IronForgesIron), which occurred on June 26, 2011 at UFC on Versus 4 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Barry starts the sequence by landing a big looping right hand that drops Kongo to the floor. He's rocked and just a short left turn from Queer Street, but he's still moving however he can to avoid a stoppage.
He halfheartedly grabs a leg and even manages to get back to his feet. It gets worse at that point, though, as Barry connects with another punch that briefly puts the Frenchman's lights out.
Again, though, he somehow gets to his feet and backpedals until the fence forces his hand. Barry, careless in his defense, walks straight up to him with his hands down and allows Kongo to fire off a right hand that hurts him.
"HD" attempts to answer back but before he gets the chance, Kongo unloads a missile for an uppercut and lands flush on the chin, folding up Barry like a cheap lawn chair.
Say hi to Jesus for me.
Now, on the surface, just taking each comeback KO at face value, they're both extremely impressive.
The reason it's so easy to appreciate Smith's knockout is the transferable nature of the pain he so clearly felt upon getting cracked in his ribs. Even in real time speed, that punch connects so clean and with such power, anyone viewing at home immediately felt a jolt in their stomach.
We could literally feel his pain.
That feeling carried right over to shock and awe when he managed to perfectly time his counter strike that put Sell down for the count.
When Kongo was rocked and on such wobbly legs, we didn't feel his pain so much as hope to see it come to an end. It was clear he was out of it, save for the last bit of consciousness that allowed him to weakly dive for a leg and get back to his feet.
All throughout Barry's onslaught, the collective thought process, which Joe Rogan so eloquently put into words while it was happening, was that this thing was done and it was just a matter of the ref stepping in to make it official.
We waited ... and waited ... and waited. The furthest thing from anyone's mind was Kongo regaining his senses and actually turning the tide.
Which is what led to dialogue like this across the world:
"Wow, Kongo is done. Barry is all over him. Jesus, this thing is about to be stopped. Barry is killing him in there. Can't believe Kongo is back on his feet. Still, just a matter of tim.... HOLY SHIT!"
Who doesn't love a surprise, right?
Where the separation comes in between the two moments is context. Smith vs. Sell was contested on the preliminary card between two fighters that, let's face it, no one cared about at the time. To this day, both are perhaps most notable for this very fight ... and not much else.
Kongo vs. Barry, on the other hand, while likely lacking lasting significance to the heavyweight division, was a replacement main event fight on a card surrounded by controversy thanks to losing its previously scheduled headliner just one day before.
They needed to deliver -- and they seriously came through.
Visibility matters and so does name value. The latter pair have it, while the previous pair do not.
Of course, that's not to say they weren't both equally memorable and will forever live in the annals of UFC lore. That's really what it comes down to, ultimately.
They were both fun as hell.
But, for comparison's sake, Kongo vs. Barry wins out over Smith vs. Sell.
Disagree? Tell me why.