For all the men and women in uniform serving and fighting each day to protect Americans’ lives and freedom, it seems fitting at the very least that the UFC presents a second installment of Fight for the Troops as a way of saying “thank you”. This Saturday night from Fort Hood, Texas, UFC Fight for the Troops 2 aims to do just that and show both American and worldwide audiences just how grateful citizens are for the troops’ service. Before the card’s main event featuring the explosive “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (25-8-2) versus Jiu-Jitsu wizard Evan Dunham (10-1), undefeated The Ultimate Fighter 10 alum Matt Mitrione (3-0) competes against “The Thrashing Machine” Tim Hague (10-4) in the co-main event, former WEC featherweights George Roop (11-5) and “The Machine” Mark Hominick (18-7) battle it out as a supporting event, and proceeding American Top Team stand-out “Magrinho” Cole Miller (17-4) taking on “Handsome” Matt Wiman (12-5), two of the heavyweight division’s heavy-limbed strikers are set to take the stage at Fort Hood for a stand-up war. On one end of the Octagon will stand the energetically animated yet equally lethal kickboxer in “Hype or Die” Pat Barry (4-3). The opposite side will bear a former King of the Cage contender and concrete-handed “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (10-3). With a majority of both fighters’ bouts ending in a (T)KO, the troops returning back home are promised a fight nothing short of memorable.
At First Glance: The soldiers stationed in Fort Hood, Texas are treated to what can easily be coined as a striking clinic served by a specialist of the hands and a virtuoso of the feet. When these two stand-up powerhouses collide in the middle of the Octagon this Saturday night, someone is guaranteed to leave feeling battered. Joey Beltran’s hands have led him to success in the UFC, dismantling Rolles Gracie (3-1) of the prestigious Gracie family via TKO and a Unanimous Decision victory over fellow Fight for the Troops 2 competitor Tim Hague. Despite having a tested career, Beltran will face his toughest competition to date in the form of Pat Barry. Though bearing a shorter mixed martial arts record compared to his opponent, “Hype or Die” has marked experience in the kickboxing circuit most notably with the K-1 and World Combat League promotions. The key to Barry’s success lies mostly in part to his powerful legs that have led him to numerous TKO victories via leg kicks that would make “El Guapo” Bas Rutten (28-4-1) envious. UFC 92 marked Barry’s debut against fellow kickboxer Dan Evensen (11-5) in which Barry stood successful via first round TKO. After a loss to Tim Hague five months after his debut, “Hype or Die” would return to score a victory over former training-partner-turned-rival, Antoni Hardonk (8-6), this time via TKO due to punches. With these two fighters pitted against one another, it is a safe bet to say that it will be anything short of dull and boring from the minute the opening bell rings up until the winner is announced.
In Depth: It is an unspoken understanding that when a fighter returns to the ring after a loss, he/she will do anything within their power to prevent themselves from succumbing to the same fate. “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell (21-8) would return to the Octagon as soon as possible after defeat to atone for the fight before. “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (29-8) has yet to lose back-to-back bouts. Come Saturday night, one of these fighters will be spared from that loss. Both fighters prefer to keep the fight standing – Beltran having a penchant for boxing while Barry is a Sanshou kickboxer at heart. The difference between the two men is Barry’s much more complete striking game. While both Beltran and Barry have finished multiple opponents with their striking, Barry has the ability to cause significant damage effectively from all ranges with both his hands and his feet. He also fights with a much more mobile style than Beltran, who prefers to stand in the pocket and unload with wide hooks and uppercuts. Barry’s ability to set up his kicks with his hands and vice versa will likely allow him to get the better of “The Mexicutioner” in the majority of the striking exchanges and his footwork will allow him to escape Beltran’s power when things get hairy in the pocket. Beltran has never faced a heavyweight as quick and athletic as Barry either, making the fact that he has to deal with two more limbs than he’s used to all the more dangerous.
The Wild Card: While the stamina of both fighters is typically a factor to consider when looking at two heavyweights in battle, it is the possibility of a ground game that can quickly shift the tides of the match. Beltran holds a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu, a relatively low rank compared to the third Dan black belt he fought in Rolles Gracie. As a novice in the art though, Beltran was able to survive and free himself from the submission danger Gracie presented to secure the TKO victory. Barry’s Achilles’ heel is exposed the minute he is off his feet as Tim Hague and “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-9-2) had proven, submitting him with Guillotine and Rear Naked Chokes respectively. Pat Barry might have found though the perfect grappling assistance in Team Deathclutch when he was called to coach striking technique to the former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar (5-2). While Barry helped his fellow heavyweight competitor in foreign grounds, the access to other heavyweights and wrestlers that Deathclutch is known to house may have in turn aided him in the art of wrestling. With an NCAA Div. 1 wrestling champion in Lesnar, and Marty Morgan, former University of Minnesota assistant wrestling coach on hand, Barry may have learned enough or gained a better understanding of grappling to expand his skill set and present another angle to threaten Beltran. If either fighter sees himself on the losing end of a stand-up war and can initiate the ground game efficiently, the match can very suddenly reverse roles.
The Verdict: When there are two fighters who prefer to stand and bang with one another, the fight has the potential to end at a moment’s notice. Both “Hype or Die” and “The Mexicutioner” have enough experience to know how to approach the other’s strengths and how to exploit the other’s weaknesses. Both men also have the power to put their opponents away. Although Beltran has the hands capable to put his adversary to sleep or turtle in fear, he will meet his equal in Pat Barry. The kicks of Barry will be able to chop “The Mexicutioner” down though as the fight progresses, slowing his pace and in turn weakening the power he can generate. Once Beltran loses his bearings beneath him expect Barry to be on the assault until Beltran is rendered unconscious or is saved by the referee calling for the match to stop. Barry via TKO, Round 2.