[Opinion] A Fistful Of Reality: Roy Nelson & Pat Barry's Knockout Recipe
As the UFC continues to transform itself into more of a form of entertainment than sport, with their continual creation of fights that undermine true number one contenders for quick paydays, two fighters on Saturday night are perfect for the present and future of the sport. At The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Team Nelson vs. Team Carwin, Roy Nelson plans to continue to show that, win or lose, he is one of the most fan-friendly fighters when it comes to offering what people pay to see: knockouts and entertaining figures. Likewise, Pat “HD” Barry offers a balls-to-the-wall approach as a fighter, and win-or-lose, he will leave memories embedded into your brain that might never be replaced.
Roy Nelson came to the UFC through the show that he now fights in the finale of. The UFC didn’t seem willing to give him a shot at the time with the company, despite the fact that he was one of the best heavyweight free agents available. As the former IFL Heavyweight World Champion, he had a legit reputation as a knockout artist, and offered a unique dichotomy to the athleticism vs. body type argument. With additional fights in EliteXC, BodogFIGHT, and other organizations, he had a strong name for himself with hardcore MMA fans. For such an established name then, it was somewhat farcical that he would have to go through the Ultimate Fighter process to make it into the organization. Luckily, all things ended up working out in his favor. He ended up on the highest rated season of the show ever, pitting Quinton Jackson’s team against Rashad Evans’ team. Throw in Kimbo Slice, a lot of young talent including Matt Mitrione and Brendan Schaub, and you have a season that couldn’t fail.
At the end of the season, Nelson and Schaub met to see who would win the UFC contract as their next heavyweight fighter. Nelson entered the Octagon to Weird Al Yankovic’s “Fat,” knocked Schaub out quickly, and took home the plaque and the contract. He followed his win up with a knockout of Stefan Struve, and earned himself a fight against Junior dos Santos for the next shot at the UFC title. Through three rounds, “Big Country” was battered and beaten, and yet he never was finished and always offered the threat of a knockout of his own at any second. Dos Santos went on to take the title, in UFC’s debut on Fox, from Cain Velasquez. Nelson dropped decisions to Frank Mir and Fabricio Werdum, while handing defeats to Mirko Cro Cop and Dave Herman, which finally brought him full circle to where he started: on The Ultimate Fighter. This time, however, he would be coaching and not vying for a spot on the roster.
When it was announced that Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson had been chosen as coaches for the Ultimate Fighter, fireworks were expected to fly. Carwin, like his opponent, offered knockout power and a threat to possibly taking a shot at the title again sometime soon. Unfortunately, Carwin ended up getting injured in training for their fight, and former Ultimate Fighter housemate, Matt Mitrione, became the new opponent for Nelson. Although anticlimactic in terms of payoff, the sheer possibility of a Nelson knockout followed by belly rub is reason enough to tune into Saturday night’s finale.
However, if Nelson’s right hand, beard, mullet, and belly are not enough of a selling point for a free card on FX, Pat Barry might be the guy to get eyes to tune in. Having risen through the world of kickboxing to the point where there wasn’t much else for him to do, Barry entered MMA with a bang. Offering some of the most potent striking in the heavyweight division, he became synonymous with UFC’s free cards, where he would steal the show with a knockout or be knocked out mentality. Having fought in one of the most memorable fights in UFC history, where he knocked Cheick Congo out multiple times in a fight, unbeknownst to the referee, only to have Congo rise like a walker on The Walking Dead and finish Barry with a brutal knockout of his own.
Although Barry’s style may not be good for long-term health, with the knowledge of concussions we now have, it is hard not to like. For so many fighters content on snuggling on the mat, or taking a decision win, Barry doesn’t leave much room for anything but a finish. He is always susceptible to a submission, but can just as quickly put his foe to sleep. That foe, Shane del Rosario, prior to his last fight with Stipe Miocic, held an undefeated MMA record. At 11-1, with a plethora of TKOs and submissions to his name, he may be large challenge for “HD,” but that is usually what makes his fights worth watching. As the old saying goes: the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Tuning in to The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale on Saturday night on FX would be worth your time, especially if you want to see someone else being put to sleep instead of the viewer.