Dean Barry explains how his entire life was spent to return to the UFC and what he hopes to do with it.


Dean Barry thought his career might be over after visa issues doomed his UFC debut, leading to his release from the promotion.

After just four professional bouts, the 29-year old fighter from Ireland signed with the UFC. It was an incredible dream come true. That was before everything turned to a nightmare when his bout in January 2021 was scrapped with the withdrawal of his opponent Mike Jackson.

The bout was rescheduled in May. But rather than compete in Abu Dhabi as originally expected, Barry had to travel to the U.S., and that’s where the issues began.

“I had known I needed more time to get my visa for America because when I had filled out the forms, I selected the wrong information on it,” Barry told MMA Fighting. So that happened, and my visa .”

was denied to me.

According to Barry, he was arrested when he was 17. His biggest mistake, however, was failing to list his criminal record on his visa application for entry into the U.S. which was flagged during review. That started a long, involved process to right his wrongs so he could get approval.

It was not an easy task, even though the UFC tried to help. When it appeared all hope was lost, and his visa just wasn’t going to be approved, Barry got the call that the UFC was releasing him from his contract.

” The fight had to end in May,” he stated. “Things just started falling apart for me. UFC claimed they could not keep me on the roster because I was unable to get the visa. I completely understand. They’re not going to keep me on the roster when I can’t get into America.

” It was a complete nightmare. It was a complete nightmare. I felt like the top, but had absolutely nothing .

Despite all the obstacles he had to overcome, Barry was determined get his visa approved. He knew the process wasn’t going to be cheap.

Barry says fellow UFC fighter Molly McCann put him in touch with an attorney from the U.S. who specializes in athlete visas. Services like that don’t come cheap. So Barry, along with his family, cobbled together around $20,000 to start working toward his visa approval so he could compete in the U.S.

“Me, my family and I put together our savings for the future,” Barry stated. “Every penny that I had .”

The fight for a visa included travel to various countries, as well, because the global pandemic had shut down the American embassy in Ireland.

Barry signed up to fight with Titan FC in hopes that he would be able to return to the UFC. He booked a fight at the Dominican Republic. Then, that fell apart after he suffered a groin injury that prevented him from competing.

At that moment, Barry began to doubt his ability to fight again.

“I was just thinking where did it all go wrong?” he said. “Why is this happening to me? It’s a shame that I am no longer the one who wants to do good for others. I wear my heart on my sleeve. It was so hard to fall asleep. It was a horrible job that I hate, so I went online looking for another job.

” I reached a point in my life where it was impossible to afford to go to the gym. My commute to work is expensive and we must pay fuel and tolls. I reached the point where it was impossible to afford this. This broke my heart. It broke my heart. I just wanted to give up everything.”

With dwindling prospects in the fight game and another baby on the way, Barry decided he needed to start looking for a steady job that would begin providing him a regular paycheck. He also decided to quit MMA because if he wasn’t able to compete in the real world, there was no need for him to invest money training every day.

” I was going to just pack it in,” said he. “It was impossible for me to go to MMA and get punched in my face every single night, be miserable, or to work at home.”

” I was thinking that there is no way in hell that I would do such a thing. I’ll just move on and put it behind me.”

He accepted a position where he would be lifting boxes all day. He made every effort possible to obtain his visa. The last straw was when he had to fly to Bucharest to meet with an agent. His past looked again like an obstacle to his clearance when he got there. He attempted to tell the story of his whole situation.

” The woman denied me yet again, until Barry asked: “Can you please tell me my story with all of the evidence? “So she looked at it. She rang Washington D.C. herself and said, ‘Give this man his visa.’ All I needed was someone to listen to me and not just judge by what they’re seeing on a screen.”

Once he got approved, Barry decided the full-time job would have to wait. He was able to ink a deal with Titan FC, which required him to travel back to the U.S. That was no longer a hindrance.

Barry was awarded a stunning 21-second knockout. It felt like years spent in frustration, anger, and disappointment boiling over into one great expression of emotion. He hoped the win would bring him back to UFC, but it was not certain. Because of his headaches during the previous bout, he wasn’t certain the powers that-be would allow him to return.

Then Barry got a call from his manager, Brian Butler, with word that Titan FC had attempted to get him another fight but had ultimately decided to pass.

“‘You don’t need it,'” Barry remembers his manager saying. “‘[The UFC] is signing you!’ They want you right now. They’re giving you the Mike Jackson fight again.’ I just felt relief. It was amazing. It was because I followed all their instructions and never lost heart .”

The UFC contract was worth all of the hard work that he and his family did to secure his visa. Now he is ready for a new start, with his first fight against Jackson scheduled on Saturday night.

“It just goes to show you, sometimes you have to take the risks,” Barry said. “Sometimes even if you can’t see it, you have to have faith that things will happen. You sometimes just need to believe in the process and push for your goals .”

He’ll enter his fight at UFC Vegas 52 as an overwhelming favorite — he’s favored 15-to-1 over Jackson in many sportsbooks — but he isn’t counting on anything to just be handed to him. Much like the visa situation from the past, he knows nothing is guaranteed, so he has to go out and prove to the UFC that he was worth this opportunity.

“He has nothing to lose in this fight,” Barry said. Imagine me walking out and Mike Jackson sparking my passion. The UFC would be over.

“So there’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders. As much as people say I’m going to walk through him, there’s a lot of pressure on me. If I lose, that’s my career gone.”