It was supposed to be Pat Barry's coming out party at GLORY 16, and the hometown crowd was roaring at 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado, for the former UFC heavyweight's glorious return to kickboxing on Saturday night (May 3, 2014). However, a little-known professional boxer by way of The Democratic Republic of Congo decided to crash it, and throw a party of his own.
See full GLORY 16 results here.
"The Black Warrior" landed a vicious left uppercut that rendered "Hype of Die" unconscious in the first round for the knockout victory. Referee Tom Johnson waved the fight off as soon as Barry hit the deck at the 2:30 mark. Google searchers were probably working fast and furious to find out information on Mwekassa as Barry was still down on the canvas and being attended to several minutes after the fight's conclusion.
See the GIF here.
Landing a highlight-reel knockout over Barry on Spike TV was about as good of an introduction to the American combat sports audience as possible for Mwekassa, who trained as a kickboxer prior to his successful boxing career. The Congolese fighter's journey is a powerful one (story here) and winning in his debut left him overwrought with emotion afterward.
Prior to the night's post-fight press conference, Mwekassa was the first fighter up on the dais, sitting with his head in his hands and looking down. As much as it is a sad moment for Barry's loss, it is a great one for the South African, who overcame living in a war-torn country among many other obstacles in his path.
Now 1-0 as a professional kickboxer, Mwekessa reflected on the moment when the media session got underway.
"I mean it's great," he told MMAmania.com. "I know that a lot of people couldn't even dream of this. Pat Barry is a good man that has made a big name for himself in mixed martial arts and kickboxing."
"Who is this guy from nowhere?" he said about himself. " I've worked very hard and it feels great. If feels really rewarding. Everything I've done, everything I've put into this. All the effort, all training, all the hours, all the worries. It's satisfying. It really feels like it's worth it. It's worth all the pain."
Speaking on pain, the lone time Mwekassa was in trouble was after he got clipped by a Barry high kick early in the round, before managing to recover from that and a flurry that followed after, by knocking his opponent back with a strong counter punch.
The former WBF Intercontinental cruiserweight champion admitted he was a bit hazy on the details.
"I can't really remember everything," he said, prompting the room to laugh. "What I remember is he caught me with a high kick and that stunned me a little bit, but I think my experience in boxing played in my favor, because as I was in that position -- with his hands -- I don't think he knew exactly what could have been done, so I think I took advantage of that."
Mwekassa said he was "ready for war" and his boxing "was the foundation," for the victory. His punches were accurate and he showcased his power several times aside from the finishing uppercut. The emotional fighter dedicated the victory to the late Mike Bernardo, who was one of his training partners under Steve Kalacoda in South Africa early in his career when he was learning the sport he has just returned to. He called him a "male figure he looked up to."
Mwekassa was seeking to turn pro as a kickboxer at Steve's Gym, but "lack of opportunity" led him to professional boxing. After this victory, it would appear that he will have plenty more of them.
GLORY head of talent operations, Cor Hemmers, is already working on it saying, "It was a good debut for him and we already have some names in mind for his next opponent."
From being a relative unknown boxer to winning by knockout on Spike TV over Pat Barry in his GLORY debut, has been a "humbling experience," Mwekassa told reporters.
"I've come a long way," he said. "I've worked very hard and it feels great. If feels really rewarding. Everything I've done, everything I've put into this. All the effort, all training, all the hours, all the worries. It's satisfying. It really feels like it's worth it. It's worth all the pain."