Dean Barry feared his UFC debut was “cursed” after year-long visa battle


Over a year and four cancelled fights after first putting pen to paper on a UFC contract, Irishman Barry will finally make his octagon bow tonight against Mike Jackson in Las Vegas

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Dean Barry talks UFC debut Against Mike Jackson

The UFC’s latest Irish signing Dean Barry has had his debut fight with Mike Jackson cancelled twice, and feared he’d miss it again after one last roadblock at the airport.

Kickboxing sensation Barry, who has finished all four of his MMA wins since making his debut in 2017, was signed to the UFC in November 2020. But after visa issues and travel problems for his opponent Jackson, their two planned fight dates were scrapped and he was dropped by the promotion.

And after spending his life savings on a costly visa process and recording a first round TKO against Drew Lipton, Barry will finally make his way to the octagon tonight in Las Vegas. But just as he was set to travel to America for his fight with Jackson, he encountered an issue at customs that once again threatened to derail his career.

“It was a crazy feeling when I touched down in Las Vegas,” Barry explained to Mirror Fighting . “When I was at border control, the woman was like ‘oh something’s come up on the system here’ and I was like ‘what’?

“They weren’t letting me progress through, they sent me to the back to see somebody and usually when they do that they send you home and I was going ‘what is going on here?’ So I went into the back and they took ages with my passport.

“She comes back out and I go ‘is everything alright?’ And she says ‘yeah, you just have to update your details because you’re in the UFC now, and it’s a work visa. Then her computer froze and I was sitting there freaking out, going ‘here we go, is this fight cursed?’

“It’s crazy, sure it’s like that, even when a police car drives past you, you start slowing down and lowering the radio thinking you’ve done something so it was just one of them.”

After that brief snag in the process, Barry did manage to touch down in Las Vegas, where he will do battle with Jackson in his UFC bow. After training across the world in his early career, the Dubliner has settled with Team Ryano where he is trained by the renowned Irish coach Andy Ryan.

He will make his debut at welterweight before eventually planning to get down to lightweight and even as low as featherweight as he progresses in the promotion. And he says that a lack of weight cut has meant a fun week with his trainer Ryan and his brother Shane, who will also corner him.

“I’m really enjoying my training again,” he said of working with Ryan. “I’m starting to really love MMA again and it’s a great group of lads, lots of hard bodies so you’re constantly getting put in heavy rounds. There are no easy rounds so I felt like it’s toughened me up a bit, the lads are really good there and I’m really getting it.

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Dean Barry faces Mike Jackson in Las Vegas tonight


Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“Andy’s done one of these with Neil Seery before and he’s been to Vegas a good few times so it’s been nice just strolling the strip, there’s good energy, good vibes and with no weight cut we’re just enjoying ourselves.”

Jackson sports and unimpressive 0-1-1 record, which includes a No Contest for a positive marijuana test despite a thorough beatdown of professional wrestler CM Punk in 2018. But despite that, Barry is treating him like a top contender as he looks for a statement result.

“This fight is not going to be a walk in the park for me, I have to go in here and treat him like he’s the best. The good thing is that I can mix it up if I want to, I’ve got some good takedowns myself and I’m strong in the clinch.

“I just haven’t really shown much of that because obviously I love striking but if it comes to it I’ll happily throw him to the ground and start pounding down on him. I’ve got decent submissions, I’m good on top so if it comes to it I’ll f***ing pound him out.”

Watch Dean Barry take on Mike Jackson at UFC Vegas 52: Lemos vs. Andrade on Saturday April 23, live on BT Sport 1.

Coverage starts from 1am, with early prelims on UFC FIGHT PASS starting at 11pm.

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