PITTSBURGH -- You don't need to point out Pat Barry's weaknesses as a fighter to him. He's well aware of his reputation as a striker with no ground game.
"The three things that Pat Barry needs more than anything else is heavyweight training partners, jiu-jitsu and wrestling. The whole world knows that, like I'm allergic to the ground or something," Barry said.
Even the UFC's video game reflected his problems with grappling.
"Whoever made the video game, as soon as my character falls down, he dies. Even if I just lay down on my back, he dies."
But to learn the ground game and give him an edge in his UFC on Versus 4 bout with Cheick Kongo, he had to find other heavyweights who knew the ground game inside and out. He found that at Death Clutch, the Minnesota-based training home of Brock Lesnar that is run by former University of Minnesota wrestling coach Marty Morgan. Barry first went to Death Clutch to work with Lesnar on striking and was asked to stay. Now, he works with Lesnar, Bellator heavyweight champion Cole Konrad (pictured), and Chris Tuchsurer, among other big guys.
"If anything, I think Marty Morgan saw my work ethic, saw that I always work hard, I don't complain -- I complain a little bit, but ignore my complaining -- he saw that I learn fast, and being a student of the game, it's hard for him to see someone struggle and ignore it. He's like superman. He saw it and came to the rescue."
Under Morgan's tutelage, Barry said that his game has evolved to keep up with the ever-changing and growing sport.
"What I was doing in my mind was enough, but apparently there is never enough, especially with the way the sport is evolving. You've got wrestlers coming and knocking people unconscious. You have strikers who take people to the ground and beat them up. It never stops."
Like Barry, Kongo has a background in kickboxing, but has added a nasty component of ground and pound to his arsenal in recent bouts. Sunday night, Barry will finally get the bout that he has been asking for since signing with the UFC.
"This is the fight I've been asking for ever since I've gotten in the UFC. It's the opportunity I was waiting for. He's a heavyweight striker, and he was known as one of the most deadly heavyweight strikers in the UFC. I never brag, I don't have the most killer ego, but I couldn't take hearing that. I want to be known as the guy to watch out for."