DENVER -- Pat Barry is a character, and one of the more talkative fighters in all of combat sports. A walking quote machine with a great sense of humor, he's a promoter's dream. The charismatic fighter will chat about anything at all: Bolo Yeung being his favorite villainous actor, his love for fast food, or any particular facet of the fight game.
The topic visited the most recently ahead of his GLORY debut at GLORY 16 is how the fighter from New Orleans was always better suited to brandish kicks and punches in a ring as opposed to adding grappling to the mix and fighting in a cage.
Barry's true love is kickboxing. Despite the fact that he fought in the zenith of MMA, the UFC, that's never changed. As he returns to the combat sport he endears the most on Saturday (May 3, 2014) against Zack Mwekessa, his career now coming full circle, he realizes he is a different guy.
"I'm coming back to my passion of kickboxing, but I'm not the same character coming back," Barry told MMAmania.com at the Westin Westminster Hotel after his pre-fight photo shoot concluded. Dressed in a t-shirt and sweats, Barry grabs a seat on a hallway table to discuss things further.
"I'm not the same character that left kickboxing five, six years ago to move into MMA. It's being this guy in the kickboxing world, moving up to MMA and now I'm back in kickboxing. So I'm back, but I'm a more mature, more experienced man.
"It's what I've always wanted to do," he continues. "I've always wanted to punch and kick. I've always wanted to stand there and let's hit each other 'til somebody quits or somebody goes to sleep. That's all I ever wanted to do."
In 15 pro MMA bouts, Barry stepped down from the UFC with a 5-7 record (8-7 overall) and was always a fan favorite. Every time out he fought like a gladiator in the Roman Arena with a "kill or be killed" mentality, forever going out on his shield and only going to the judges once. He did his best in the grappling department, but was never fully removed from his roots and desire to stand and trade saying, "I was always a kickboxer doing MMA."
Now living in Colorado and training at Grudge, Barry left the UFC on a two-fight losing streak, but it was actually after his last victory over the late Shane del Rosario when kickboxing started to tug at his strings and pull him away from MMA.
"I was still doing it. My body was there competing, but my heart wasn't there. My mind wasn't there. I never wanted to step away from kickboxing, but I had to for a point in time. Pretty much the entire time I was going like that. I never really became an MMA guy."
Now that he is back to his first love, the 34-year-old who has fought in K-1, and trained under Ernesto Hoost and Duke Roufus, recalls the early days of fighting in the Chuck Norris World Combat League (WCL).
"Those days were great. People don't realize that the World Combat League was one three-minute round, which sounds like it's nothing," recalled the former New York Clash team member. "That was the hardest shit I've ever done in my life. One three-minute round, that was by far the hardest shit I've ever done in my life, because you are thinking 'it's one round, three minutes, I'm just going to sprint this entire time.' And nope, you get out there and rrrrrrrahhhhhhh and you look up at the clock and you got two minutes and 52 seconds left and it's like, 'Jesus this is the worst.'"
If you are wondering if Barry ever came across the legendary Chuck Norris, he will only disappoint you. It was simply forbidden.
"That was the number one rule as soon as we got there: don't talk to Chuck," Barry chuckles. "Don't talk to Chuck Norris. If you see him, don't talk to him."
Barry was "dying to get back into it," but before he could make the switch to GLORY and start to acclimate himself back to the ins and outs of kickboxing, he had to be let go from his contract.
"People think that I got cut but I didn't," he affirms. "I asked if I could step down so I could make the move to GLORY and they graciously let me go."
One of the newest GLORY heavyweight's said "It definitely took a second to get the MMA little kinks out here and there," and not long after signing with the world's leading kickboxing promotion, Barry would face Ed Burris in a tune-up fight at Combat Sports Challenge in Richmond, Virginia.
"The 22 second, second round knockout?" Barry asks with a smile. "That was great, but what nobody knows is that he was knocked out like eight times in the first round. I didn't know where I was the entire first round. That was the 'ring rust' thing, the little myth that I'd always heard of but I never really believed in. I had always heard of it but I never believed in it until it came to this fight. When that fight happened, the first round was the round I needed in order to shake off those cobwebs."
After digging a big blow to the body and finishing Burris with a huge overhand right, Barry said he thought to himself, "Here it is, I know how to do this again." With that bout under his belt and getting past any ring rust, the veteran fighter can set his sights on his tournament reserve fight against "The Black Warrior."
How does Barry feel about Mwekessa?
"He has really heavy hands and hopefully he doesn't punch me," he answers, true to form, giving a normal dose of Pat Barry humor we've all come to expect. Mwekessa having to adjust to kickboxing after his professional boxing career surely seems to bode well for the veteran kickboxer, but Barry said not necessarily.
"It does, but the truth is, is that anybody knows it's 50/50 once the bell rings," he said. "I do have a little bit... You can call it a pinch of an advantage on paper, because he's been boxing only and I've been kickboxing and doing MMA.
"We both stepped away from kickboxing for a bit," Barry continued. "He was gone a lot longer than I was. He's got a successful boxing career. He's got heavy hands. He's got a lot of finishes. He doesn't fight to go the distance. He only fights to finish and that's why we are both going to match up well. He might punch better than I do. Maybe I kick better than he does. As long as I don't get submitted, I will be fine."
"Everybody can expect to see a one-round fight, it's not going the distance," Barry said with assurance. "Zack Mwekessa and I do not go far. As soon as he gets a little pinch of this Denver lack of oxygen, he's going to know that we have to get in there, we've got to do it fast, do it hard and that's going to be it."
The former Sanshou medalist said his "Hype or Die" moniker is not changing, and added "it's always and forever" and "not just a nickname but a lifestyle." Being able to fight in Colorado where he now lives is "pretty cool," he says and "memories come back" of when he used to live and fight in New Orleans in the beginning of his fighting career.
Everything seems to be looking up for Barry. It's evident he is happier than ever in every sentence he speaks about coming back to the sport he loves. He mentioned having "more appreciation for it now" due to being away from it the last five years. Doing something that you love will usually have that type of effect on people.
"Hype of Die" reflected on on being re-energized and reinvigorated for his GLORY debut and mentioned his heroes from the movie Kickboxer and the video game Street Fighter.
"It's euphoric because I get to do something I've always wanted to do," Barry beams. "I'm finally in a position where I can get back to doing what it is that I never wanted to stop doing. I can get back to doing what I always loved doing. Be Tong Po, that's what I wanted to be. Sagat from Street Fighter. I get to come back and I get to actually do this nowadays."
In closing, Barry made it clear that he isn't coming over to GLORY to just hang around, it's a title that he covets.
"That's the goal," he said. "When I got back everybody was like 'oh so you just moved over to kickboxing to go and hang out.' No I came here to be the best in the world. I haven't had a belt around my waist in a long time. That's my sole focus to come in and get a belt."