Heavyweights will be plentiful on the UFC Fight for the Troops 2 main card on Saturday night. In the first of two heavyweight tilts, former K-1 kickboxer Pat Barry (5-2, 2-2 UFC) will battle California-born and raised "Mexicutioner" Joey Beltran (12-4, 2-1 UFC). Barry's most recent appearance came at UFC 115 against PRIDE legend Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. After stunning the Croatian in the opening round, Filipovic was able to rally back from the brink of defeat and submit Barry in the third round of action. The days following the bout revealed that Barry had broken his hand and foot in the affair.
Beltran wasn't as unlucky in his last appearance, although he did come out on the losing end as well. He fought former NFL lineman turned mixed martial artist Matt Mitrione, who is also fighting on this card, in September at UFC 119. Beltran was able to win the first round of action by landing a huge right hand followed by some ground and pound. Unfortunately, Mitrione's survival allowed him to win the next two rounds against a slowly fading Beltran. Beltran's aggressive striking and wild overhands took quite a bit of gas out of his tank early, and Mitrione capitalized with his lengthier reach and peppering stand-up game.
Similarly, Barry possesses those same skills, and he's much more honed in the kickboxing arena as he is a former K-1 fighter. He has devastating leg kicks coupled with the mixed barrage of body kicks and head kicks. While that would normally spell success in this type of style match-up, Barry is weak in close quarters combat and on the ground, two areas in which Beltran may be able to capitalize.
Beltran's conditioning is also a concern as this fight drags on. His technique tends to get sloppier as he gets tired, and that tends to be the case as he gets hit as well. He's more prone to come forward throwing wild haymakers as a desperate attempt to tilt the fight in his favor or finish. But he also uses that method to gain an edge early. His best chance in this encounter is to hope for a downing blow in the opening frame. That is, unless, he has changed his mindset and technique to circle, close distance, and fire off combinations.
I don't think he'll get that opportunity. Barry isn't a diverse fighter in the sense that he can bring a high-level grappling game to this fight, but his offensive prowess is damaging enough to get the job done on Saturday night. Look for Barry to dodge the initial flurry from Beltran and counter with a steady diet of leg kicks, eventually opening up Beltran's chin for the downing blow.