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Pat Barry Approaches UFC Bout Against a Hero With Healthy Amount of Fear

Pat Barry is a little tired of people telling him that he's giving Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic too much respect in advance of their bout at UFC 115 this weekend.

Because Barry has made no secret of just how much he admires his opponent, some people seem to think that signals a problematic mental state. They wonder if he isn't psyching himself out, building the man up too much in his mind. To Barry, it's those people who have the wrong attitude.

"Cro Cop, in my eyes, he was like a living cyborg," Barry told MMA Fighting. "People say, 'You're giving him too much respect.' I'm like, you get in the ring with Cro Cop and don't respect him and see what happens."

Barry has no problem admitting that Filipovic is a more intimidating fighter than any he's faced in his MMA career thus far. It's a strange thing to face one your heroes, especially if you believe, as Barry adamantly does, that he's still just as dangerous as he ever was.

To hear Barry tell it, it's that belief that will help him win this fight.

"Fear is what keeps me on my toes. I've seen what I've done to people, and I don't want to experience that. I've also seen what Cro Cop did to people before my career even started, and I don't want to know what any of that feels like. I've watched his highlight videos too many times, and I don't want to be on the receiving end of that stuff."

At least on paper, the Barry-Filipovic fight looks like a kickboxing match with MMA gloves on. Neither man is particularly known for his grappling credentials, and both have a reputation for kicking people in their heads and making them fall down.

Barry doesn't deny that a stand-up war is the most likely outcome of this match-up, but it doesn't mean that he doesn't have other weapons in his arsenal, should he need them.

"If Cro Cop punches me hard enough, trust me, you're going to see some extremely awesome white belt jiu-jitsu and wrestling come out," he said. "You'd be surprised how many people out there think that I'm just kickboxing in training. They think I'm not doing any wrestling or jiu-jitsu at all. They actually, firmly believe that. It's ridiculous. I'm doing wrestling and jiu-jitsu now more than I'm doing striking."

At the same time, Barry doesn't kid himself. He knows he's not going to become known for his submissions or his takedowns, and in a division stacked with former All-American wrestlers his best shot at victory is always going to come on the feet. As he puts it, his chances of winning a fight "diminish greatly" once the action hits the mat.

But at 5'11", Barry is also one of the shortest fighters in a weight class where several monsters roam the top of the ranks. He doesn't necessarily see that as a sign that he's in the wrong division, however, if only because the situation wouldn't get much better at light heavyweight.

"If I cut down to 205, I'm going to be the shortest 205-pounder. I'm 5'11", 255 pounds. I'm heavier than a lot of the heavyweights in the UFC. I'm heavier than Cro Cop, than Cheick Kongo, than Stefan Struve, than Junior Dos Santos, than Cain Velasquez. I'm bigger than all of them; I'm just shorter. If I cut down to 205, I'll still be 5'11". I'll still be the little guy. I'm about the same height as Miguel Torres, so I'd have to go all the way down to 135 [pounds] to fit in."

At least against "Cro Cop," Barry faces someone close to his size and with a similar skill-set. He knows that fans are probably expecting a shootout, and that doesn't bother him at all.

As much as he admires Filipovic, Barry insists he'll have no problem kicking him in the face on Saturday night – he'll just be doing it with the utmost respect and admiration.

"Cro Cop, I've learned a ton just from watching him. He's made me a better fighter just by giving me the chance to watch him leave the bodies in the streets like he has over the years. The guy was one of my idols, someone I look up to, and I'll always be a fan."