In recent fights, I’ve documented the UFC’s tendency to match its tallest fighter, Stefan Struve, against some of the taller fighters in the organization. In fact, Struve has taken on Sean McCorkle, Christian Morecraft, and Travis Browne in his last three fights, and you won’t find many UFC opponents as tall as those three. It’s easy to tell why: the UFC wants to put together fights that come down to skill as much as possible. Ultimately, the UFC wants the fight to be about who the better fighter is, as opposed to who can play the reach/distance game better.
Now the UFC has given up completely. I mean, Pat Barry would be a short middleweight for crying out loud. At 5’11” (and I suspect this measurement was taken with a good pair of shoes), Barry is one of the shortest heavyweights in the UFC. The result will be something that, as Stephen Quadros eloquently put it during a PRIDE fight between Semmy Schilt and Akira Shoji, is straight out of National Geographic.
The thing is, just because Struve is the much taller fighter doesn’t mean that he’s protected from the knockout. In fact, Struve lost by KO in a similar situation against Roy “Big Country” Nelson, and Nelson’s not much taller than Barry is. If Struve gives Barry the opening, Barry’s arms should be long enough to reach Struve’s chin. As a result, Struve cannot afford to blow off the distance game.
This is especially true because of Struve’s tendency to lose by KO. Besides the KO loss to Nelson, Struve has lost by KO to each of Junior dos Santos and Travis Browne. And in his fight against Christian Morecraft, Struve was getting battered before suddenly scoring a KO of his own. The stark truth is that, despite his extraordinary height and reach, Struve is not a good striker, and if this fight is contested at striking distance, Struve is very much at danger of losing by KO once again.
Here’s the thing: for all the hype Pat Barry gets, he’s not the greatest striker in the world either. I have no doubt that Barry would pummel many of his UFC colleagues if they were to step into the K-1 ring. But in MMA, for whatever reason, Barry has struggled to out-strike his opponents. Now, Barry has great power, and against Struve, he may not need to land all too often, but let’s not forget that Barry really had a tough time against Joey Beltran of all people. If Barry doesn’t land the KO punch, it’s quite possible that he gets out-struck by Struve.
Another thing in Struve’s favor is that his extraordinary length makes for great opportunities on the ground. Struve has seven career wins by triangle choke in particular. If this fight happens to go to the ground, where Pat Barry’s ground game could be generously described as “rudimentary,” a Struve submission win could happen very fast.
SILVA PREDICTION: STEFAN STRUVE (35.34) OVER PAT BARRY (26.65)
While I feel that SILVA overrates Stefan Struve, I still think he’s a good bet to beat Pat Barry. It’s a very high-risk pick; the Barry KO could come at any time. But if Barry doesn’t land the KO, I think there’s a chance that he gets out-struck on the feet, and if the fight goes to the ground, it’s all Struve. I hope I’m wrong; nothing against Struve but Barry is really fun to watch, and a fun personality as well. But in the end, I think Stefan Struve is a better fighter than Pat Barry is, and so Struve is my pick to win the fight.