Pat Barry didn't have a good time at GLORY 16 DENVER.
He faced the worst of all opponents - one who comes in with no name but a ton of stopping power and a dangerous set of skills.
It worked out beautifully for Zack Mwekassa (11-1, 10 KO's) - everyone who saw the fight fell in love with his power and, more importantly, his personality. Mwekassa escaped civil war and personal turmoil to become a professional athlete with a likeable persona.
Since the KO loss, we've had UFC president Dana White pass on an alleged exhortation from Barry's former training partner Brock Lesnar to force his retirement (a subject both were strangely silent on during the latter stages of Barry's UFC career).
Regardless, Barry (16-6-1, 10 KO's) is unlikely to be retiring any time soon. But he does find himself 0-1 in a GLORY heavyweight division which has a Top Ten full of dangerous men, and careful consideration should be given to his next match.
Barry's friend/idol Mirko ‘CroCop' Filipovic sits at #10 in the ranks and that's the only one I'd feel comfortable matching him with at present. I think anyone else in the Top Ten is just too dangerous for Barry at this stage. They have all been very active while Barry is just making his return to this sport and still has a lot of rust to shake off.
Barry said returning to kickboxing is a bit like riding a bike - you never forget how. That might be true, but there's a big difference between getting back on a bike and getting back on a bike then entering the Tour De France right away.
Figuratively speaking, Barry needs to traverse a couple of smaller mountains before he can enter the race for the yellow jersey. And so with that in mind, here's five possible matches GLORY could make for his next outing:
Daniel Sam (25-10, 13 KO's)
Daniel Sam is a solid slab of muscle and visually very intimidating. But that muscle seems to cost him something in terms of performance, because he fights so conservatively it seems like he is trying to save energy all the time.
He had a really bad showing against Benjamin Adegbuyi at GLORY 16 on the Superfight Series card. Maybe the elevation affected him and that lack of oxygen made his muscle heavy. He threw very, very little for most of the fight and largely moved backwards as Adegbuyi teed off.
The eventual finish looked like it owed more to Sam just staying down because he wanted out of there, rather than anything particularly crippling in Adegbuyi's blows. It wasn't a good look from Sam and neither was his last outing. He's one of the nicest guys in the sport but he really needs to start getting nasty in the ring.
Sam's head is probably on the chopping block in terms of his roster spot. He badly needs a win and needs to look good while doing so.
Matchmaking logic: Barry would be outsized but he's outsized by everyone at this weight so that's no big deal. The main thing is that Sam is something of a gatekeeper at this level and if Barry could not get past him then he probably would have to give ear to Lesnar's (alleged) concerns.
Nicolas Wamba (42-5, 20 KO's)
Everybody gets big-show nerves when they move from the regional leagues. The MMA world is familiar with ‘the UFC jitters' fighters get on their debut for the organization and now kickboxers have to overcome ‘the GLORY jitters' as they debut for their sport's UFC counterpart.
Wamba didn't overcome his. Either that or he just isn't very good and somehow tricked his way into the organization. He's had a lot of fights though and a lot of wins so that isn't likely. He just seemed to freeze up when he fought Ben Saddik and what fight there was in him quickly went out of him.
That could be due to Ben Saddik's size. He is absolutely enormous, the biggest active heavyweight on the roster. Or it could be that Wamba just isn't ready for the GLORY level of competition. We will need to see what he looks like in his next outing.
Matchmaking logic: Wamba made his debut with a stoppage loss to GLORY's largest active heavyweight. Barry is GLORY's smallest active heavyweight - would that pairing give Wamba some encouragement or would Barry flatten him quicker than Ben Saddik did?
Raoumaru (12-6, 9 KO's)
Like Barry, Raomaru made his debut in a tournament. Where Barry was a reservist, Raomaru was fighting in the opening stage of the GLORY 4 TOKYO GRAND SLAM - a 16-man heavyweight tournament.
Unfortunately for Raomaru, who wandered into the ring looking a little sheepish, his opponent was Gokhan Saki, who entered the ring looking like he was barely containing the energy of ten thousand suns.
Those suns quickly exploded in a veritable mushroom cloud of nuclear glove-on-chin. Raomaru looked like he was moving in slow motion as Saki blitzkrieged him with ridiculously fast hand combinations. The video-game combo finish of Raomaru was the gene-seed of the disgustingly brilliant 12-hit combination which would later seal Daniel Ghita's fate at GLORY 6 ISTANBUL.
Matchmaking logic: Raomaru isn't big for a heavyweight. Pat Barry isn't big for a heavyweight. Both of them were stopped by punches on their respective GLORY debuts. Let them have at it.
Ewerton Teixeira (9-4, 3 KO's)
After three years off the competition circuit, this 32-year old veteran of the K-1 circuit returned to action with a GLORY 13 TOKYO fight against Hesdy Gerges. The fight went the distance but it was all Gerges; Teixeira looked less than sharp in there.
In some respects he is similar to Barry, though Teixeira - a Kyokoshin Karate stylist - only briefly moved into MMA while Barry made a seven-year career of it. But the two both have layers of ring rust to shake off and both want their spot in GLORY.
Matchmaking logic: Two veteran heavyweights who both made shaky returns to the kickboxing circuit recently; why not let them go in there and knock that rust off each other?
Jhonata Diniz (8-5, 5 KO's)
The highest ranked among these suggestions and the most active. Diniz has faced top opposition in GLORY with mixed results. At 22 years old he is still learning - indeed, he is on one of the steepest learning curves in GLORY - and he has shown holes in his game.
One of those is leg-kick defense. Even though Diniz trains in the Netherlands, the time-served Dutch-style fighters such as Hesdy Gerges and Rico Verhoeven are masters of leg destruction and have both taken him out that way.
Barry has fierce leg kicks and was having success with them against Mwekassa before electing to get into a short-range punching war instead. If he could stick to his strategy against Diniz he might get a result, though as we saw against Igor Jurkovic at GLORY 14, Diniz also has the power to put guys away in emphatic fashion.
Matchmaking logic: Diniz and Barry are coming off losses. Diniz is established in GLORY but has proven vulnerable to leg kicks. Could Barry exploit that or would Diniz be able to KO Barry like he did Jurkovic?
It will be a few months until we see Barry again, as he is currently serving out his medical suspension for the stoppage loss to Mwekassa. In the meantime, GLORY has scheduled a huge double-event for Saturday June 21.
First we get GLORY 17 LOS ANGELES live and free on SPIKE, with a four-man featherweight tournament (Gabriel Varga, Shane Oblonsky, Yodkhunpon Sitmonchai and former WEC champion Miguel Torres star) plus the return of Mirko ‘CroCop' Filipovic to US soil.
Then after that we get GLORY: LAST MAN STANDING on pay-per-view. The card, priced at $34.99, features an eight-man middleweight tournament with the world title on the line, plus a heavyweight title fight (Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita) and a welterweight title fight between Marc De Bonte vs. ‘Bazooka' Joe Valtellini.
Looks like a pretty good night in.