Pat Barry recounts fight with pill and alcohol addiction
Former UFC heavyweight Pat Barry appeared recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour and recounted his fight with pills and addiction. Every addict has the story about when life came crashing down, and was the beginning of recovery; the ones that don’t tend to die early.
For Barry, it was while he was helping prepare Brock Lesnar for Mark Hunt at UFC 200. One night he got drunk and arrested and jailed.
“That was the moment I realized I can’t get out of this cell if they don’t let me out, I can’t get out,” said Barry, as transcribed by Mike Chiappetta for MMA Fighting. “Me, ‘Gorilla Pat,’ I can’t physically break out. I can’t talk my way out. The one person I called hung the phone up, and didn’t answer, Rose. [She was] disappointed. I figured out this doesn’t need to go any further. I realized, s*** needs to change and s*** needs to change now.”
He was fired from Lesnar’s camp the next day. His longtime partner Rose Namajunas was training for a #1 contender fight with Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 201, and she told Barry that at least for the time being, she had to move on without him. He returned to an empty home.
Barry watched on television as Namajunas lost to Kowalkiewicz via Split Decision.
“Go back to any of Rose’s performances that didn’t seem quite right. It was me,” said Barry. “I was the outside distraction. This guy. Any performance. I’m not talking about just fighting. Any interview that seemed off and weird, any post on social media, it was my f***ing fault. So I said, ‘I’m not doing that no more.’ She should’ve been world champ two years ago. It was me. I didn’t know it was me, but it was me.”
Barry, 38, has been sober a year now, and is training hard. He took a kickboxing with MMA gloves match on November 19 vs. 6′ 5″ 265lb former Bellator heavyweight title contender Eric Prindle. It will be his first combat sports event since a kickboxing win early in 2015. And he and Namajunas are a couple again.
“I just love this guy,” she said, her voice cracking. “We’ve been bouncing around a lot, I never had a place to call home. I have a home now, not just an actual house, but my coaches and this guy. If I can’t do it with them, I don’t want to do it. It’s more about the journey and the experiences with each other, and that makes it the best rollercoaster ever.”
And Namajunas finally got that title shot; she will fight Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 on November 4, the same month Barry fights again.
“We found a different lifestyle, a path we like a lot better,” said Barry. “Not only do we like it a lot better, I think everybody likes it a lot better. It’s more fun. It’s more healthy for everyone. It’s not dark anymore. It’s light now.”
Addiction is tough, and so is Pat Barry. He and Namajunas are the Romeo and Juliet that this sport needs and deserves. We wish them every success in the world.