The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale fight card: Pat Barry vs Shane del Rosario preview

Photos by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting

Two talented former heavyweight kickboxers will square off this Saturday night (Dec. 15, 2012) as fan favorite Pat Barry battles Shane del Rosario on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada. What's the key to victory for both men? Find out below.

Pat Barry

Record: 7-5 overall, 4-5 in the UFC

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

Key Losses: Stefan Struve (UFC on Versus 6), Cheick Kongo (UFC on Versus 5), Mirko Filipovic (UFC 115)

How he got here: Pat Barry got his start in kickboxing and Sanshao. He competed in the striking arts for nearly six years on the international level before finally making the transition to mixed martial arts in 2008. After fighting professionally for seven months, he was already making his UFC debut against Dan Evenson that same year, winning violently with leg kicks in the first round.

Barry would suffer his first defeat against Tim Hague, showcasing his serious lack of a ground game in the process but rebounded nicely against veteran kickboxer and former training partner Antoni Hardonk with a TKO victory at UFC 104. He would fight his former hero Mirko Filipovic at UFC 115 and despite dropping the Pride legend twice in the first round, eventually succumbed to a rear naked choke in round three.

Barry rebounded with a dominant performance against the hard-headed Joey Beltran earlier this year and was moments away from finishing French kickboxer Cheick Kongo in the UFC on Versus 5 main event before suffering a stunning knockout of his own, the first of his career. His rebound fight was against Stefan Struve, a man over a foot taller than him. Barry hung with "The Skyscraper" for over half the fight but was eventually put into a triangle choke and despite an impressive powerbomb, he was forced to tap.

He was potentially fighting for his job against Christian Morecraft but showcased some improved submission defense, escaping a precarious position to knock the big man out in the first round. He couldn't continue his winning ways against Lavar Johnson, gaining mount at one point but eventually succumbing to the big man's heavy punches.

He'll be trying to get things back on track against Del Rosario this Saturday night.

How he gets it done: While Barry may not have the edge on the ground against del Rosario, he's got the experience and the fluidity on the feet to win a stand-up battle against the former kickboxing champion.

Del Rosario looked a bit stiff with his striking in his UFC debut, a return bout after an extended layoff from fighting due to the car accident. If he still hasn't shaken off the rust, Barry should really go after him with strikes and especially his solid kicks.

Leg kicks and body kicks will be his go-to attacks here and time is on his side. Del Rosario slowed down drastically in the second round against Miocic and if Barry can simply outlast him, he'll probably be able to take over by the second and especially the third.

Shane del Rosario

Record: 11-1 overall, 0-1 in the UFC

Key Wins: Lavar Johnson (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva)

Key Losses: Stipe Miocic (UFC 146)

How he got here: Shane del Rosario has had an incredible combat sports career already, and he's still just getting started. The 28 year old Californian got his start as a professional kickboxer and just seven fights into his professional career, he was the world WBC heavyweight kickboxing champion, the first ever American to do so.

During that time, del Rosario was already starting to transition to mixed martial arts. He started in smaller promotions like King of the Cage but quickly progressed to ShowXC, then M-1 Challenge and finally Strikeforce.

Del Rosario has finished every opponent he's faced, whether via submission or knockout and his submission skills have grown significantly under the tutelage of Giva Santana at the Team Oyama Gym.

After defeating Lavar Johnson last year, he was on the verge of the big leagues and was slated to fight Daniel Cormier, but a tragic car accident severely injured his back and sidelined him for a full year. In his return bout, he lost his UFC debut to Stipe Miocic after fading in the second round and getting beaten up badly with ground and pound.

He'll try to right the ship against a fan-favorite in Barry.

How he gets it done: Del Rosario is equally dangerous standing and on the ground. He's already got the incredible striking acumen of being a world champion level kickboxer, but he's done a terrific job of mixing in some seriously nasty submission skills as well.

There aren't many heavyweights that can pull off an omaplata submission like he did against Brandon Cash in his debut with Strikeforce.

If the fight stays standing, expect to see del Rosario try to work his punches. His kicks are okay, but they aren't nearly as nasty as Barry's. Look to see del Rosario try to get inside and land with power with hooks and straight shots, as Barry is susceptible to the knockout if you hit him hard enough.

The best path to victory for del Rosario might be to take the fight to the ground, where he's very capable of working submissions both from top and off his back. Don't be surprised to see him try to take Barry to the ground where he can potentially take advantage of "HD's" lackluster submission game.

Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight has to be if del Rosario's conditioning has improved. He looked pretty good in the first round against Stipe Miocic but completely fell apart in the second round, was taken down and then beaten to a bloody pulp. He can't afford to slow down for a second against Pat Barry or he's going to be in for a world of hurt. Del Rosario has the natural ability to hang with Barry everywhere in this fight, but only as long as his cardio holds up.

Bottom Line: This is a battle of two very solid strikers who are capable of finishing the fight at any instant. Even more interesting is the fact that both Barry and del Rosario have been rocked or knocked out multiple times in recent fights. With how hard these guys hit and how accurate they are with their strikes, there's some serious potential for a highlight reel stoppage in this one. Don't blink!

Who will come out on top at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!

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