“For the record, Barry has a broken [right] hand and a broken [right] foot,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “His foot and hand are broken.”
Barry panicked once realizing the right hand, one of the most vicious weapons in his arsenal for the intended game plan against the Croatian, had run out of ammo. Visibly distressed going into the final five minutes, he tired, faltered, and wilted to some vintage Cro Cop striking before finally succumbing to the Croation at 4:30 of the third round by rear-naked choke.
One can only wonder if his admiration for the feared Pride FC 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix Champion also played a part in his lost on Saturday. Not once, but twice in the first round, Cro Cop took two devastating rights from Barry, leaving him firmly planted on the Octagon canvas. Instead of a lion going in for the throat, he waved Cro Cop up to his feet, a decision that would later be his undoing. Constantly high-fiving each other, even taking a moment of pause in the first round to bro hug, Barry’s tactful gestures stemming from the admittedly star struck opportunity to face one of his idols made his overly respectful approach to the fight and generous resolve look like a glorified sparring session with a friend. When facing someone as fierce and competitive as Cro Cop, calling that a mistake is an understatement.
White weighs in post-fight: “No doubt about it. He respected Cro Cop, but kind of had this feeling like I know I’m going to take him out tonight. I think he played that fight all wrong.”
Leaving the Octagon Saturday night a loser in the record books, Barry’s presence and personality during the days leading up the fight is sure to have won him over fans across the world. His heartwarming attitude and youthful persona is a welcome addition to a sport commonly filled with bad blood and pre-fight trash talk.
The much needed win for Cro Cop comes at the end of his UFC contract. Following his recovery from being rocked early in the first round, the Croation fought with a vigor and hunger not seen since his days in Pride FC, looking as if he had finally broken out of his shell in the cage. His future in the UFC remains to be seen and only time will tell.
For what appeared to be a lackluster card on paper, the co-main event between these two daunting heavyweights helped deliver what ultimately turned out to be a fantastic night of fights for Vancouver’s inaugural event.