If I’ve learned one thing in my time watching MMA, it’s that only two different types of fighters are able to stick around in the UFC.

The first group consists of the winners, which is about as self-explanatory as it can get. If you win inside the Octagon, 99.9 percent of the time, you’re going to stick around. If you’re looking for any sort of career in the UFC, winning is the closest thing to a surefire way to keep your roster spot.

The other group of fighters that tends to stick around consists of the entertainers. These guys may not win every fight, and by the end of their Octagon tenure their win-loss ratio may be closer to 50/50 than most fans realize. But, more often than not, they make magic happen when they step into the cage. Some of the promotion’s more memorable moments have featured fighters that never competed on a championship level.

Stephan Bonnar was never in a title fight, or even a No. 1 contender’s bout, but he’s in the UFC Hall of Fame thanks in large part to one fantastic fight against Forrest Griffin. Joe Lauzon may never quite reach a shot at UFC gold, but there’s going to be a large group of fans that are crushed when he steps away from the cage. Some fighters don’t need to have their hand raised in a dozen fights in the UFC to win us over. Instead, they do it every time they step into the cage in 15-minute spurts.

The guys at the top of the sport are the best athletes in the game, and they tend to take a methodical approach to strategy in the cage. The entertainers are our modern-day warriors, willing to go out on their swords in order to provide some excitement for the fans. It’s not the most rewarding job as far as career advancement goes, but these fighters are necessary cogs in the UFC machine, and they’re part of what makes watching the sport so enjoyable. Not everyone can be champion, but there’s always a place in the UFC for a fighter willing to go out and entertain.

Of all the fighters that ended up moonlighting as entertainers in the Octagon, it’s difficult to think of anyone that has given fans as many memorable moments as Pat Barry. When “HD” announced his retirement from the UFC last month, his career record in the Octagon was a lowly 5-7. Barry never truly got on a roll inside the Octagon, and he’s ended up on the wrong end of more highlight reels than he probably dreamed was possible. He lost three of his last four fights by brutal knockout and was potentially going to be released by the company anyway. None of that changed the fact that, along with hundreds of other fight fans, I was sad to see him go.

The desire to see Barry stick around in the UFC would be purely for selfish reasons. The former K-1 competitor has been knocked out in over half of his career losses, and all of them seemed to come in a particularly vicious fashion. Any fan with a conscience worries about the well-being of fighters after watching them get punched in the head for years on end, and Barry is exactly the type of fighter who starts to make MMA fans nervous. “HD” has been one of the most outgoing and fun fighters to compete in the UFC over the past decade, and no one wants to see that charisma start to fade away. Barry’s decision to jump back to his kickboxing roots and sign with Glory may have made all of this a moot point, but it’s hard not to think about a fighter’s health after you’ve seen them motionless on the mat a few times.

Still, it’s frighteningly easy to brush those feelings aside when you start to sit back and reminisce on the highlights that Barry has given us over the years. It’s almost impossible for an MMA fan to not smile while watching Barry go toe-to-toe with Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, one of his idols, in 2010. The amount of excitement on “HD’s” face throughout the fight was evident, and in the testosterone-fueled MMA world, it’s always nice to see two fighters legitimately having fun inside the cage. Even in defeat—and with a broken hand and foot—it’s clear that Barry had the time of his life during the fight.

With Barry, the highlights just keep on coming.

There’s his three-round destruction of Joey Beltran, where Barry did everything but hit Beltran with the proverbial kitchen sink in front of a crowd of screaming U.S. troops and yet “The Mexicutioner” still refused to go down.

There’s Barry picking up Stefan Struve, who’s damn near twice the size of “HD,” and slamming him to the mat to try to escape a submission attempt.

There’s Barry’s three-minute slugfest with Cheick Kongo, which is undoubtedly one of the craziest fights in the history of the UFC.

No matter whom the UFC threw in the cage with him, Barry made sure to deliver excitement. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single bout in Barry’s UFC tenure to dispute that claim.

However, considering the hype that was behind Barry following his UFC debut win over Dan Evensen, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that “HD’s” 5-7 record is a bit disappointing. Barry burst onto the scene at UFC 92, crippling Evensen with leg kicks while Joe Rogan gushed over what a true kickboxer could do in the UFC’s heavyweight division. A submission loss to Tim Hague in his second UFC bout put a damper on the talk that Barry could be a force in the UFC’s heavyweight division, and his inability to get on a significant winning streak inside the Octagon forced him into his role as a mid-tier heavyweight. It was revealed rather quickly that the hype around Barry as a possible contender was a bit excessive, and it’s hard to imagine that there is anything Barry could have done to change course.

When “HD” first stepped into the Octagon, his ground game was nowhere near where it needed to be in order to compete with better grapplers in the division, and it showed in his submission losses to Hague and Cro Cop. Barry was in the process of learning the ground game pretty much from scratch, and he was competing with the best fighters in the world while doing it. Barry wanted to stay on his feet and throw bombs, but the rest of the division knew his weakness and usually went out of their way to exploit it.

Eventually, Barry’s takedown and submission defense both became formidable, but his chin had started to give out on him by that point. Ironically, as soon as Barry was able to force most fighters to stay on their feet and slug it out with him, he started getting beat at his own game. His last loss in the UFC, a first-round knockout courtesy of Soa Palelei where Barry was taken down and mounted before succumbing to punches, basically showcased all of Barry’s struggles in his MMA career.

It would be easy to look at Barry’s kickboxing credentials and the fights where he looked impressive inside the Octagon—his knockout over Christian Morecraft is still one of the manliest things I’ve ever seen—and say that “HD” never quite lived up to his potential. However, couldn’t the opposite be true? Some fighters walk into the cage and they’re destined to become world champions. Barry was destined to be a world-class entertainer. He may not have left the UFC with a winning record and he’s never going to be mentioned with the greatest of all time, but Barry provided fans with a handful of the best MMA moments of the last five years. When fans remember Barry, it’s not going to be for what could have been. It’s going to be for what he did, which was to put on awesome fights. It may not be a UFC title belt, but it’s not a bad legacy, either.

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.