On June 26, 2011, Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry met in UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. While the main event was expected to be a competitive and spirited affair, nobody could have predicted this match’s wild finish.
In what has often been called the greatest comeback knockout in the history of the UFC, Kongo erupted halfway through the first round to stun Barry. However, up to that point in the match, it had pretty much been all Barry.
When the bell sounded to start the fight, the two heavyweights engaged tentatively, each showing respect for the other’s power and skills. While both men eventually started landing punches, Barry soon emerged as the dominant fighter, forcing Kongo backwards. Then, Barry struck and Kongo went down. Barry leaped on top of him, raining down heavy blows.
The match appeared to be over.
But, to the surprise of practically everyone watching, Kongo kept moving, so the referee elected not to stop the match.
Kongo eventually recovered his footing, but seemed to be on shaky ground. The match was Barry’s for the taking, but when he went in to take it, Kongo stung him with two hard right hands that seemed to come from out of nowhere.
Barry went down…and he didn’t get up. Kongo was the winner by knockout, at 2:38 of the first round. Commentators Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan immediately dubbed the match as “the greatest comeback in UFC history.” There is no doubt that it ranks near or at the top when it comes to shocking endings.
The victory was huge for Kongo. Prior to this match, the big knock against him was that he didn’t seem to have what it took to beat a top UFC heavyweight. With this result, he put those doubts to rest once and for all.