The UFC on FOX 3 event will feature a heavyweight bout to get things started on the main card Saturday night. Pat Barry will be facing Lavar Johnson in a bout which more than likely will not make it to the judges as both fighters have vicious knockout power. Let’s see how this one breaks down.
Pat Barry (7-4) comes into this bout off a much needed TKO win over Christian Morecraft in his last outing in January. Barry had lost back to back fights and three out of his last four prior to the win which clearly had him on the edge of being released from the promotion. Barry has always exhibited good striking skills with his kickboxing background, but did show that he had improved his submission defense against Morecraft. Barry has vicious leg kicks which he tends to favor because of his lack of height at under six feet tall. Barry goes for the finish as six of his seven wins have come via TKO/KO, and he has been finished in all of his losses(1 TKO, 3 submissions).
Lavar Johnson (16-5) comes into this bout off of an impressive UFC debut win via TKO against Joey Beltran in January. It was the first time the iron chinned Beltran had been stopped via TKO in his MMA career. Johnson had dropped two consecutive bouts in the Strikeforce promotion prior to his UFC debut, so it was much needed win for him. Johnson has the ability to put opponents away quickly as the majority of his TKO/KO wins have come in the first round. The weakest part of his game is submission defense just like Barry, but it’s safe to say there will not be many takedowns in this fight.
Barry is the favorite at (-200) and Johnson as the underdog at (+160).
I’d have to drop a few coins on Johnson here just because of his knockout power. He’s also the much larger heavyweight and will enjoy a tremendous reach advantage over Barry. However, Barry is accustomed to fighting larger opponents and can score with those legs kicks I mentioned earlier. I look for Barry to try to score with the leg kicks, or he could occasionally try to score with the lunging left hook. He’ll definitely need to fight on the outside or possibly close the distance and work on the inside with uppercuts and hooks Mike Tyson style.
I expect Johnson to to able to work from the outside with his reach, but he’ll need to be cognizant of the leg kicks from Barry as it doesn’t take many to take their toll. He should look to counter the leg kicks with the big overhand right, or use his size to put Barry against the cage and work dirty boxing and zap some cardio from Barry as he tries to deal with the size difference.
I think you can basically flip a coin on this fight. Both fighters have only been stopped once via TKO. Barry is probably more technical striking wise, but Johnson just has one punch KO power you can’t predict. I think I’m going to go with Johnson here. He has the size advantage and the big advantage in MMA experience when compared to Barry. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barry chop him down and finish him via TKO.