UFC on FX 1: To Brawl Or Grapple? Christian Morecraft’s Call vs. Pat Barry Could Determine Future

If Pat Barry never engaged in any antics he’d probably still be liked by fans as much as he is. A hardnosed kickboxer with a tendency to go for broke on his fee; Barry is the sort of brawling heavyweight that gives the “just bleed” crowd a thrill every time he’s in the cage. Outside the cage the mercurial Barry is such an oddity that curmudgeons like Brock Lesnar and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filopovic have become good friends and training partners. There aren’t too many people in MMA who have anything really negative to say about Barry. He’s such a character that you forget that he has some of the hardest (and best) striking in the division.

That Barry seems to be overlooked because of odd things, like getting the Croatian on video singing “California Dreaming.” It was one of the more amusing MMA videos of the past year, admittedly, but being an entertaining fighter and person only goes so far in the UFC. Eventually you have to win a fight or two to stay on board. On the heels of two exciting losses, Barry finds himself potentially looking at the wasteland that is regional MMA against a fighter in the same boat: Christian Morecraft.

Morecraft is in a similar spot as Barry, having gone 1-2 in his three octagon appearances so far. His one win over Sean McCorkle has been sandwiched between two big TKO losses to Matt Mitrione and Stefan Struve and is in danger of heading back to the same circuits from which he began his career with a 6-0 record. Another loss in a violent way and Morecraft could easily find himself fighting outside the UFC.

The fight is a unique clash of styles, Morecraft much more of a grappler and submission artist opposite Barry’s heavy legged striking style. But what could become a huge factor in the fight is the size of both men.

Barry is outweighed significantly and gives up over a half foot in height to Morecraft, one of the more physically imposing heavyweights in the division. It won’t be the first time Barry gives up the physical advantage, coming off a fight against the near seven foot Stefan Struve, but is significant enough that it’ll give him a clear strategy going in. “Hype or Die” is at his best on his feet and in a violent brawl. He has legitimate knockout power in his hands and his leg kicks are only second to Alistair Overeem in the UFC heavyweight division in power. Barry’s strategy in the fight most likely is going to keep his distance with his kicks and get Morecraft to stay on his feet in standing exchanges.

Barry isn’t strong on the ground and his game plan will be to take a page out of the Chuck Liddell playbook: sprawl and brawl. Watch for him to stay away from the clinch and keep the fight in the middle of the cage, using his footwork to circle away if and when Morecraft tries to cut the cage off. Barry is going to need space to throw and getting his back close to the cage is going to be something he’ll avoid at all costs. On the mat Barry has progressed from his days of being lost but he’s by no means anything above proficient. He knows enough not to get submitted but a good wrestler can suffocate him on the ground and wear him out.

And that’s going to be Morecraft’s best shot at winning. Morecraft is surprisingly crafty on the mat for someone his size and good enough to submit Barry if he can bring the fight to the cage. Look for him to control the center of the cage and get Barry close enough to it to go for a trip takedown or use a clinch against the Octagon to set up a takedown from there. Morecraft doesn’t have the chin to survive a kickboxing fight with Barry. He has to avoid this from turning into a brawl at all costs. He’s started out fast before and faded horribly in the second round and that’ll be something he has to avoid. If he can turn this into a grappling match and make Barry carry his weight on the ground he can potentially finish Barry. The kickboxer is remarkably strong and can muscle his way out of most things but not always.

Barry tried to slam his way out of a Stefan Struve triangle choke in their last fight but couldn’t quite escape it all the way, eventually submitting to the “Skyscraper.” If Barry can make this the sort of sloppy brawl the division can be known for at time he’ll most likely end up violent finishing Morecraft. If Morecraft can avoid the brawl and use his grappling Barry will likely tap.

The Pick – Barry by KO Round 1

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