UFC 161 June 15, 2013 Heavyweights: Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: Fan-friendly knockout artist Pat Barry has been competing in the Octagon since 2008, going 5-5 in the heavyweight division despite being the smallest fighter in the weight class. Shawn Jordan migrated to the UFC from Strikeforce and has gone 2-1 since 2012. With both fighters coming off wins, but only one can push themselves up the suddenly crowded division ladder. The betting line is practically even and the is currently the closest on the UFC 161 card, with Barry as the slight favorite at -120 and the comeback on Jordan +100. Given how even the market believes they are, we might learn something by looking at their stats. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: The shocking stat of the card is that Pat Barry won’t be completely undersized against a heavyweight opponent. He’ll surely have his hands full with the heavier Shawn Jordan, but it’s rare to see Barry not having to overcome a huge reach advantage. Jordan still gets a Tale of the Tape edge by being the younger Southpaw. So let’s see if that’s enough to warrant an upset pick. Standup Game: As a former professional kick boxer, Pat Barry is one of the best strikers in the division. He has very good accuracy and some of the best knockdown power around. When calculated punch for punch he’s actually one of the most dangerous strikers in UFC history. But Jordan’s performance in the Octagon so far has brought surprisingly good accuracy numbers of his own, and he has yet to be hurt in Strikeforce and UFC competition. The key difference here is defense. Bad defense is a dangerous weakness for a heavyweight. While Barry’s striking defense is elite for heavyweights, Jordan’s is among the worst. That means Barry should be the one getting the better of striking exchanges. Despite his elusiveness, the one hole in Barry’s game is his chin. When strikes do land, he’s suffered knockdowns at a high rate. This may be due to a combination of his smaller size, his battles in the kickboxing ring, and the fact that he turns 34 next month. None of these are good for knockout resiliency. But despite those factors, Barry should be the one landing harder and more precise strikes as long as it stays standing. Ground Game: The problem for Barry is that at some point, Jordan is sure to try to get this to the mat. He averages at least one takedown attempt per round, although his success rate is just about average at 40%. Though surprisingly few opponents have attempted to take Barry down, they have generally been unsuccessful in doing so. One thing is for sure, Barry is not likely to be the one wanting to grapple. Once on the ground, Jordan has been successful in being in control for the vast majority of his minutes spent there, while Barry has been more mixed. Despite Barry’s very public efforts to improve his grappling game, being underneath a heavyweight does not present a lot of opportunities for him on the ground. Fight Prediction: Though Jordan’s grappling is definitely a threat here (for Barry, and for the decision), Barry’s hands give him a strong chance in any fight. It’s not a huge edge, but Barry should get enough opportunities to exploit Jordan’s weak striking defense, and he only needs to land a few to end it. Reed’s Pick: Barry by TKO Reed’s Recommended Play: A straight play on Barry at -120 presents good value because of the close line. But so does the more conservative heavyweight play of “Fight won’t go the distance” at -260. Between Barry’s dangerous strikes and his vulnerable chin, it’s no surprise that only one of his 10 fights has gone to a decision, and that was against the granite head of Joey Beltran. If Jordan does survive long enough, he too could finish this.