MINNEAPOLIS — Patrick Barry is larger than life.
It’s a Thursday morning, as he spars at The Academy — formerly the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy — under the direct guidance of Death Clutch Gym coach Marty Morgan. The first things I notice are Barry’s epic kicks, perfected no doubt by his many years of high-level kickboxing. Next, I notice his sound effects. He has a rhythm going, and the exclamation points on his explosive strikes seem straight out of the pages of a comic book: “Zap! Boom! Pow!”
“I have to be as animated as I possibly can, because that’s how I keep myself distracted,” Barry says. “Every once in a while, I’ll throw punches, and when they land, I’ll make a sound like swords clanging. And gun sounds. And you know what, I do that in a fight, too, and the referee and others around the ring are sitting there going, ‘What the f— is this dude doing?
Some behind-the-scene information from the set of Ultimate Women Challenge has emerged, and it ain’t pretty. The show was marketed as a women’s MMA-based reality show along the lines of the Ultimate Fighter, but has gained notoriety for allegedly withholding payment from both the talent and the crew. And it gets worse. Sources close to MMA HQ reveal what really took place during the filming of the show, which makes it sound more like a hostage situation than an MMA-based reality television show. Here’s some of the highlights as revealed by multiple people.
MILWAUKEE — The parking lot is jam packed on a Monday night at the Roufusport Martial Arts Academy. As the fight team prepares for its evening sparring session, a crowd of onlookers begins to gather. Duke Roufus’ gym has an open-door policy, and a small group remains glued to the action for the next hour and sticks around afterwards in hopes of catching Anthony Pettis for a quick photo or autograph.
Whether Pettis notices his slew of onlookers or not is immaterial. His focus is right where it should be: on the task at hand. The pressure is on. Roufus and assistant coach Scott Cushman bark out orders to a dozen fighters donning shinguards and headgear. No detail is overlooked, as the coaches provide individual fighters with specific pointers during and after each round. No 50 percent sparring here; the session is designed to simulate the intensity of a fight. Each fighter displays nimble footwork, as fists fly to the rhythm of the techno music sounding in the background.
Although he was a tae kwon do black belt, Pettis started in the beginner’s class at Roufusport when he first stepped foot in the gym in 2006. However, it did not take long for him to stand out from the crowd.
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey will make her anticipated promotional debut at Strikeforce Challengers 18 on Friday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, but it will hardly be the biggest stage with which she has ever contended.
The American judoka qualified for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, at just 17 years of age and was the youngest judo player in the entire competition. Her judo accomplishments and medals are too many to list, though she may be best known for her run at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where she won bronze and became the first American to medal in women’s judo since its inception as an Olympic sport in 1992.
Competing in judo within the ultimate athletic arena makes MMA bouts look tiny by comparison.