For many in the combat sports world, their journey began with one martial art. Some found an attraction to the “sweet science” of boxing, one of the most well-known sports in the world. Others chose the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a very intricate system of grappling that allows people to contort their bodies in ways that can prove deadly for their foes.

By now, it’s no secret that Pat “HD” Barry’s first foray into combat sports came by way of kickboxing. Barry assembled a record of 15-5-1, with wins over Scott Lighty and Gary Goodridge among his accomplishments. For more than five years, from May 2008 to December 2013, Barry spent his time competing in mixed martial arts, but he never forgot his roots in the kickboxing realm. After all, those roots helped to shape him into a fan-friendly fighter during his stint in MMA, where he accumulated an 8-7 record and cemented a reputation for nasty leg kicks and memorable knockout wins. Everyone enjoys a beautiful knockout, and who knows better about delivering one than a man whose background is in a pure striking artform such as kickboxing?

“People always say, ‘We want to see knockouts, and we want to see people beat each other and get knocked out,’” Barry told The MMA Corner. “And they want to see men and women—it doesn’t matter—but they want to see people stand there and throw punches and kicks until they either can’t anymore or decide to quit. If you want to see that, then kickboxing is a great sport for that because it’s 100 percent striking and it has a ridiculously high knockout rate.”

Barry loved kickboxing before he even partook in the sport, though the amount of knockouts and the pure striking aspect of it only played part of a hand in influencing his decision to strap on the gloves. As ridiculous and awesome as the power of these strikers consistently proves to be, their durability might be even more impressive. It’s rather common, actually, to see someone attack with everything but the kitchen sink and pay the price for it by injuring their own extremities.

“You don’t want to get hit by those guys ever-ever, like not even kind-of-ever,” Barry explained. “The thing is, what makes it even more ridiculous and even more awesome is that not only are these some of the best punchers and kickers on the planet beating each other up, but I’ve had many fights where I hit somebody and they don’t hit me at all, but I’m injured because I’ve been hitting them so much.”

In addition to the durability factor, there also lies the key element of endurance, another must-have component for any athlete in any sporting event. The term “endurance” takes on a new definition in kickboxing, though, thanks in a great deal to the timeless concept of the Grand Prix tournament format. Fans of the Pride Fighting Championships’ days of MMA know this concept backwards, forwards and any other imaginable way. This format involves a set number of individuals competing in a one-night tournament event. Barry, a former semifinalist in two K-1 World Grand Prix 2007 events, knows this concept very well.

“The part that I don’t think people comprehend or totally catch it, is just doing that multiple times in a few hours,” Barry said. “It’s not just one fight; it’s not just ‘sit there, have a kickboxing match, I win, I lose, whatever man, I feel good.’ You’re fighting two to three guys in a period of three to four hours. That’s crazy.

“Anybody out there who fights knows that we have a tough time making sure we’re amped up, in the zone, and ready mentally just for one match, but to be able to do that, then turn it off and have that mass adrenaline dump, and then to be able to get up 40 minutes later and do it again, and then have another adrenaline dump, and then to have to get up and do it one more time? That takes a lot of something to be able to do that, man. Something that you don’t just see in a lot of everyday athletes.”

If anyone ever doubted that Barry still had that something, Barry gave them an emphatic reminder that he never lost it when he made his official return to kickboxing at Combat Sports Challenge 39. There, he scored a strong second-round knockout against Ed Burris. The finish started with a short right hook that froze Burris, followed by a left hook that missed and then concluded with a second right hook to the ear. Prior to the Burris fight, though, Barry had accepted the deal to sign with GLORY and fight in a heavyweight reserve bout opposite Zack Mwekassa. That fight will take place on Saturday, live from the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo. Taking a fight before his GLORY debut was a risky move, not only because of the potential for a defeat, but also because of the potential for injury. So, what drove Barry to take the fight with Burris?

“We knew about the GLORY fight before this fight,” Barry clarified. “GLORY was actually the first one that was scheduled, but I made a request, since it was my first time having a kickboxing match in seven years. I couldn’t see it in my head and in my dreams, all day and night, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to kickbox anymore. Seven years ago, but you’ve been active the whole time, and it’s like, yeah, but MMA and kickboxing are two different sports. So, I said on my own, ‘If you are okay with it, before the May 3 fight, is it okay if I have a kickboxing match beforehand?’ and they said, ‘Yeah, sure, if you want in. Don’t get hurt though,’ because that’s always a risk. But I made the decision to have a fight before the GLORY fight.”

Now, Barry faces a stern test in his heavyweight tournament reserve bout with Mwekassa. The contest is scheduled to follow the heavyweight semifinals, which feature Anderson “Braddock” Silva against Sergei Kharitonov and Errol Zimmerman against Ben Edwards. Although Barry will bring his assortment of heavy hands and punishing leg kicks to the ring, fans watching GLORY for the first time might question what Mwekassa brings to the table.

In 10 wins, Mwekassa has finished nine of his opponents. Though the knockout rate does stand out in the tale of the tape for this bout, it’s not the first thing that stood out to Barry, who does not expect Mwekassa to throw anything that the man known as “Hype or Die” has not seen before when the two battle on Saturday. Barry knows that anything can happen, as the nature of the sport of kickboxing is as unpredictable as the competitors involved in it, so if a win over Mwekassa does lead to a quarterfinal spot in the next heavyweight tournament, so be it.

“The first thing that stood out was, ‘Don’t let him punch you,’” Barry said, “But that’s also the same with everybody, like, ‘Don’t get punched by anybody.’ But this guy’s got really heavy hands. He’s a seasoned boxer, he’s never been one for going the distance, and he’s a finisher, man. He hits people in the head, and they fall down and they don’t get back up, and that’s what he’s really good at, so that’s what I know about him. But you never know, maybe this dude’s got the nastiest karate kicks you’ve seen in the world. We’ll see on Saturday.

“There’s not much, offensive-wise, that anybody can do that’ll surprise me. There’s nothing that anybody’s thrown at me that I haven’t seen before, multiple times. I’ve trained all over the planet. I’ve trained with the best of the best, and I’ve been with the worst of the worst. I’ve trained with people no one’s ever heard of, and if you get in there with the idea that you’re fighting Sagat from Street Fighter, or you’re fighting Super Shredder, you’ll be ready for anything.

“I don’t know how anyone bets on fights, because this has got to be, I think, one of the most unpredictable sports on the planet. You never know. Once that bell rings, it’s 50-50, no matter who it is. Anybody can win, anybody can lose, everybody is dangerous and anybody can finish anybody, no matter who it is. Anyone gets punched in the head, they can go down for a long time.

“Winning a tournament is the way to become a champion, and that’s what I’m here for. Being in or getting into a tournament is the goal. It’s what I’m aiming for, and winning a tournament is what I want, so, no, I don’t wish any ill will on anybody, but whatever needs to happen in order for me to get into a tournament is what needs to happen. My main focus is myself, and I’m focused on me and what I can do, and once I’ve got that done, if I do everything that is necessary for me to do, then it will all happen.”

Pat would like to thank GLORY for the opportunity, Trevor Wittman and his coaches and Rose Namajunas. Follow Barry on Twitter: @HypeOrDie

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.