Long time lurker, first time poster. Finally worked up the courage to write something, hopefully I can contribute a little bit to this awesome community!
First of all, I have to say that I'm a big fan of Pat Barry. His dynamic striking and go for broke style make him a must watch fighter. Coupled with his good guy persona, goofball antics, and heartfelt interviews, its impossible to not like the guy. That being said, I want him to hang em up. Seriously. Before I get jumped on, let me explain.
Watching his last fight with Shane Del Rosario, I had to admit to myself that one of my favorite fighters will never, ever, be a factor in the heavyweight division. He nearly got submitted in the first round in a fight that was supposed to be a gimme. Yeah, he destroyed Shane in the second, but I'm not convinced that he can do that against anyone other than hand picked fighters. Lets be honest, even if he drops to 205, he won't fare much better there. Despite the fact that he's shown improved grappling, he's still a one trick pony (albeit a badass one). He'll never be able to hang with the upper echelons of either division, which are laden with dominant grapplers and guys that are flat out better than him. His biggest attribute and redeeming quality is that he is exciting to watch and marketable as all hell. That's probably the reason why he's been able to stick around for so long in the UFC, and justifiably so. The way he fights almost guarantees a slobberknocker that is accessible to neophytes and exciting for the hardcores. His Twitter and YouTube following are amongst the most prominent in all of MMA, so much so that even casual fans will probably recognize him. His post fight interviews following the Hardonk and del Rosario fights are very well documented on the intertube, garnering attention on outlets like Yahoo and the like. Along with his fights being featured on free TV several times, Pat Barry is one hell of a recognizable guy.
So what to do with him? He's never going to be a contender at HW or LHW, but his ability to sell fights and draw eyeballs is undeniable. I say, give the man a microphone. The UFC could opt to put him through a crash course in broadcast journalism and stick him in several shows as a commentator. Maybe not a Joe Rogan or Ariel Helwani type of guy; call him a striking analyst or cage side reporter or something like that. He would add a refreshing frankness to the commentary team and would definitely contribute an entertainment factor that is sometimes lacking. Imagine him interviewing guys backstage after fights, reporting from cage side as events transpire, or offering detailed analysis of the striking post-fight. I think he could be an asset in that regard.
Given that his career as a fighter is just about as good as it's going to get, and the guy is already in his mid 30's, I think that this is the time for Pat. The UFC stands to lose a bunch of cash if they let him keep fighting, because he'll eventually wash out, end up in a Bellator-like promotion and will help them sell fights like few fighters in lesser promotions can. The smart move would be to make an investment in him and help grow their brand in the process. Not to mention, Pat's got to be one of the best guys in MMA. You WANT to see him do alright, make good money, leave a mark on the sport. This is the best way for him to do so. I think this is a mutually beneficial situation for everyone involved, what do you guys think?