Friday night's bout between Pat Barry and Christian Morecraft is simultaneously the first ever main card bout on a UFC on FX card, and also potentially the last bout in the UFC for one of the fighters. With Barry on a two-fight losing streak and losses in three of four, while Morecraft sits at just 1-2 in the UFC, count on both men to be coming out full bore as they look to maintain their positions in the world's top MMA promotion.
Pat Barry entered the UFC as an exciting prospect due to his kickboxing pedigree, however struggles to adapt into a well-rounded mixed martial artist have led to an up-and-down tenure within the UFC. At just 5' 11" with a 74-1/2" reach Barry is one of the shortest heavyweights in the UFC. He is also one of the most entertaining personalities in the sport, which has likely earned him a longer leash with the promotion.
Barry lived up to the hype in his UFC debut, hammering Dan Evenson's legs with low kicks until the latter could no longer continue, however in his second fight Barry showed off his troubling ground game for the first time in being submitted by Tim Hague. Barry improved to 3-2 in the UFC by sandwiching wins over Antoni Hardonk and Joey Beltran around a defeat in the form of the ever-rare Cro Cop submission. Things have only gotten more troubling of late, as Barry first fell victim to the comeback of the year as a retreating, rocked Chiek Kongo landed a lights-out blow, before struggling both on the feet and the mat en-route to a submission loss to Stefan Struve.
Strengths and Weaknesses
It's rare in today's modern UFC that you find a fighter whose strengths and weaknesses are so plainly apparent. Pat Barry is a striker, pure and simple, capable of delivering powerful shots to an inferior foe that will have them wilting in short order. Most notably, Barry's leg kicks are some of the hardest around, and not something any fighter wants to spend too long on the end of. On the negative side, when fights hit the ground with Barry it seems almost academic that he is going to be tapping in the near future. What's more, he has not shown the kind of killer instinct you would like to see in a striker that relies on finishing foes before they can drag him down, most notably in his bout with Cro Cop where he repeatedly dropped the Croatian while appearing hesitant to follow after the wounded enemy to finish the job.
There's something very reassuring about picking a one-sided fighter like Barry to win a fight. You know it won't be by submission, and unless he is facing a guy who is tough as nails but lacking in grappling skills, it won't be a decision, either. If you're taking Barry, it's by TKO, probably in the first round. Barry is a huge betting favorite in the fantasy books, and with his troubles on the ground is best shied away from altogether on that front.
Christian Morecraft analysis after the jump.
Morecraft is a member of the Ithaca-based Bombsquad team which also produced former UFC fighter Tamden McCrory. Morecraft began his career fighting in the Massachusetts area before earning his chance in the UFC.
Morecraft got to the UFC on the strength of a 6-0 start to his career in smaller shows. His UFC debut was a rocky one as he succumbed to strikes in the second round of a fight with Stefan Struve. Morecraft's two most-recent bouts in the Octagon have come against friends of Barry's. First Morecraft bounced back from his first defeat by choking Sean McCorkle unconscious with a standing guilotine. The resurgence was short-lived, however, as Matt Mitrione knocked Morecraft out in the second round of their fight at UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry.
Strengths and Weaknesses
While not the complete foil to Barry, as his grappling is not as regarded as Barry's striking, nor is his striking as weak as Barry's grappling, this fight remains a grappler vs. striker proposition. Morecraft was outstruck handily in both of his defeats, and will want no part of trying to spend 15 minutes out-pointing or head hunting against Barry on the feet. Morecraft has finished fights with a standing guillotine, an armbar and a rear naked choke in his career, showing he can catch submissions from multiple positions, and will be well-advised to attempt to do so again in his fight with Barry.
Morecraft has three submission victories in his career, most recently the bout with McCorkle. In general, that doesn't say enough to label somebody a grappling superstar. Against Barry, however, until the kickboxer proves otherwise it is enough to say he will have a sizable advantage on the ground should the fight go there. If Morecraft takes this fight, it will be by submission, and the sooner that happens the more likely it is, so go Morecraft by round one submission if he is your dog in this fight. With a return of almost 4-to-1 on your fantasy dollar, and the gaping hole in Barry's game, Morecraft is a strong bet to make as a single fight wager.