Opening up the UFC 161 main card are two heavyweight guys trying to crack the top ten rankings. Pat “HD” Barry faces off against Shawn “The Savage” Jordan. Shawn Jordan looked like he was well on his way up the ladder before he ran into a grinder against Cheick Kongo, but he bounced back nicely with a strong finish over Mike Russow. Barry is coming off of a second round finish over Shane Del Rosario, and will be looking to string together back to back wins for the first time in his UFC career.
Shawn Jordan (14-4 overall, 2-1 UFC)
Strengths: Power, athleticism
Weaknesses: Clinch game, grappling
Pat Barry (8-5 overall, 5-5 UFC)
Strengths: Kickboxing, powerful strikes, dancing skills
Weaknesses: Undersized, BJJ defense
Fight Breakdown – HD is one of those guys that could win or lose a fight at any given moment. His match against Cheick Kongo is a perfect example, he had Kongo in all sorts of trouble and was a breath away from finishing that fight, then lost in stunning, stunning fashion when Kongo pulled off an insane and improbable comeback.
A big problem is Barry is at a distinct size advantage against many of the fighters in the HW division, and he usually has to swing for the fences and reach beyond himself to close the distance and connect. That leaves him open for a lot of attacks if he doesn’t succeed. This will be true once again against Jordan, although the differential won’t be as noticeable as say against a Cheick Kongo or Stefan Struve. Barry should look to utilize his strong kicks and pick Jordan apart while staying active and on the move. Targeting Jordan’s legs to set up an opening to the body or the head would be ideal. He probably doesn’t want to get into a grappling match with Jordan, who could use his strength and size to neutralize Barry’s standup skills.
And that’s precisely what Jordan should look to do. His striking is improving and he certainly has the goods to beat Barry in the standup, but if he starts to get tagged he has to look to make things ugly and take Barry down. Barry is a heavy guy for his size, but Jordan has the power and athleticism to slam him once or twice. Taking away your opponent’s greatest weapon is a surefire way to secure a victory and Barry’s greatest weapon is his dangerous potential to knock someone out in the standup. Jordan could take advantage and keep Barry on the ground to ride out a win. Jordan will most likely strike with Barry until he absorbs too many shots or he sees an opening for a takedown. If Jordan shoots wisely, Barry is probably going down and staying down.
Why It Matters – Barry needs to start showing some consistency. One would think his days in the UFC are numbered. There aren’t many guys batting .500 who stay afloat in the UFC, especially guys who lose like Barry. He’s like a Leonard Garcia or Diego Sanchez, somewhat talented with explosive potential, but not quite good enough to keep up with the big dogs. Barry has either been knocked out or submitted in his losses, and only one of his UFC fights has gone to a decision (a win). He isn’t the type of guy to shy away from fighting and taking chances to win, so he puts on a show but that’s also left him on the short end of the stick for half of his career. Putting together back to back wins is a novelty for him, but if he’s going to do it, now would be a good time to start.
Jordan has a lot of potential and looks ready to take that next step to get to the higher echelon of the heavyweight division. If he can bring it all together and apply his athleticism to his striking and takedown game, he could turn into a major force to be reckoned with. Jordan is relatively new to MMA, taking his first professional fight four years ago. He ended up finishing Mike Russow in his last fight, but previous to that, he was taken to school by Cheick Kongo and basically given a lesson in clinching and grappling. Barry is not likely to test him in that department as much, but it will come up again at some point in the future. Barry will still be a great test to see how Jordan is coming along. In order to step up his name and value, he has to be able to beat guys like Barry on a regular basis. That starts with beating…Pat Barry.
Prediction – Jordan