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Mike Jackson returns, faces octagon newcomer Dean Barry at Jan. 20 UFC event

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Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mike Jackson is getting the call to welcome a top prospect to the UFC.

Returning from a 29-month hiatus, Jackson has agreed to fight debuting Irishman Dean Barry in a welterweight bout at a UFC event on Jan. 20, multiple people with knowledge of the matchup told MMA Fighting.

Jackson, a fighter and a journalist, has only competed twice as a professional, both times in the UFC. In February 2016, he was the first UFC opponent for Dana White’s Lookin’ for A Fight acquisition Mickey Gall, and he lasted just 45 seconds before being submitted. Two years later, he was selected to fight former pro wrestling star Phil “CM Punk” Brooks, and he won by unanimous decision to drop Punk’s MMA record to 0-2. That was the most recent appearance for both men, and Punk seemingly has retired from the sport.

The return of Jackson is somewhat of a surprise given White’s chilly reception to his victory. Jackson engaged in some showboating during his fight with Punk, which drew the ire of the UFC’s president.

“Michael Jackson, I’m not happy with,” White said at the UFC 225 post-fight press conference in June 2018. “This guy was acting like a goofball tonight. You get this opportunity to fight CM Punk and you’re doing like bolo punches to the body on top? Never looked like he was trying to finish the fight ever, right? Looked like he could have finished the fight a few times. Never tried.

“I don’t know what that guy did for a living before we gave him this shot, but whatever it was he needs to go back and do that again. He’s 0-2 as far as I’m concerned.”

“That’s it for [Jackson’s] UFC career,” White added. “I wouldn’t put that kid in the Contender Series.”

Jackson later responded to White’s comments, saying White is “like a little girl sometimes and he gets in his feelings.”

Barry signed with the UFC in November off of the strength of a 3-1 start to his career. He comes from an accomplished kickboxing background, and all three of his wins have come by way of first-round knockout. He currently trains at Straight Blast Gym Charlestown in Dublin.

Most recently, Barry competed in August at UAE Warriors 13 in Abu Dhabi where he defeated Abdulla Al Bousheiri.