** Dean Barry at the UAE Warriors event in September. Picture: UAE Warriors
By Andy Stevenson
Tallaght fighter Dean “The Sniper” Barry has become the third Irish mixed martial artist currently signed by the UFC, the world’s leading MMA promotion.
The 28-year-old follows in the footsteps of former double champion Conor McGregor and Rhys McKee with SevereMMA.com breaking the news this week with the UFC later confirming the news.
A former multiple world champion in kickboxing, Barry enjoyed a prestigious career in the striking-only sport. Starting at the age of 11, he won a plethora of titles around the globe at both junior and senior levels of competition.
In 2017, Barry followed the likes of crossover stars Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Michael “Venom” Page in making the transition from kickboxing to MMA, spending time in Montreal training at TriStar Gym alongside MMA legend Georges St. Pierre.
The Sniper made his MMA debut in September 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri, defeating Thomas Thatcher via first-round KO. After his successful first outing in the cage, Barry returned to Ireland where he began training at SBG Charlestown under the tutelage of Irish MMA pioneer and striking coach to McGregor, Owen Roddy.
In 2018, Barry signed with UK-based promotion BAMMA, making his promotional debut in Dublin’s 3Arena, the first and only time Barry has competed on Irish soil to date in his career. With little to no grappling experience, Barry’s striking-focused skill set was ultimately neutralised by American opponent Anthony Taylor, who took Barry to the mat and submitted him via rear-naked choke in round two.
The Dubliner rebounded from that loss to Taylor with another first-round finish in June 2019, knocking out Corey Samuels in the first round of their lightweight matchup at Titan FC 55.
That performance would draw the eyes of UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby, but it would be Barry’s next fight that would seal the deal.
While 2020 has been a rollercoaster year for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the past nine months of Barry’s life have seen incredible highs and painful lows.
A family man, Barry was forced to face the sudden death of his grandmother in March. Dealing with the grief, Barry admitted he lost his motivation for a period, falling out of competition shape as potential fights began to fall through due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
His life was turned upside down again shortly after his grandmother’s death as Barry learned that he was due to become a father.
Rejuvenated and motivated once again, Barry shed the excess weight he had acquired, and looked ahead to his next fight.
In September, Barry travelled to Abu Dhabi to compete on the UAE Warriors 13 card, taking on 7-1 Kuwaiti Abdulla Al Bousheiri.
After enduring an early grappling onslaught that saw Al Bousheiri dominate the opening exchanges, the Irishman survived and once he was able to deny Al Bousheiri’s takedown attempts, Barry began to shine.
As the pair commenced exchanging on the feet, it was clear that the SBG Charlestown fighter was a different level, outclassing Al Bousheiri in the striking department before finishing him in emphatic fashion with a highlight-reel KO. The win marked Barry’s third first-round finish in as many wins.
That most recent display evidently impressed the UFC brass enough to offer Barry a multi-fight deal with the promotion. It was a momentous occasion in more ways than one for Barry, as he welcomed the birth of his son Jayce just hours before signing his UFC contract.
With just a 3-1 MMA record, the odds will be stacked against Barry fighting at the pinnacle of the sport, but his fan-friendly striking style is exactly the type UFC President Dana White has historically had a soft spot for.
There are questions to be answered around Barry’s level of wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu too, but only Barry’s performances inside the famed UFC Octagon will answer those.
Details around Barry’s UFC debut have yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to be in early 2021.