Mike Jackson was ready to let it all go.
Just moments after his third UFC fight ended following an eye gouge that left him unable to see, Jackson received an apology from opponent Dean Barry, who claimed his actions were unintentional despite ultimately being disqualified by referee Chris Tognoni. Jackson got his hand raised in victory even if it’s not the way he wanted to win but that was the end of the story as far as he was concerned.
That all changed after Jackson saw a replay of the foul in question, which was followed by a post from Barry on his now deleted Twitter account where he accused the 37-year-old welterweight of looking for “the easy way out” when he was unable to continue.
“I was already done,” Jackson said when addressing Barry on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “He could have just left it at that. In the ring, he’s ‘I’m sorry, my bad, not my intention.’ He could have left it at that. You didn’t have to go online and say ‘Mike quit.’ That’s what I’m saying.
“You’re trying to win at this point. You’re trying to look good. You’re trying to impress people. Whatever your strategy is. But it’s not a smart strategy. That’s why he had to delete his Twitter, for being a dumbass. That all falls on him. He literally did all this to himself and he tries to blame me for quitting.”
According to Jackson, he’s certain that Barry knowingly cheated because of how the eye gouge occurred after an exchange against the fence following a separate foul where he suffered a brutal low blow from a spinning back kick.
“I’m going to get into why I feel that it was intentional and why Dean Barry is a dirty cheating motherf***** — initially as it happened, I saw his two fingers, I was literally looking at two fingers in my eye and I’m like ‘oh s*** his hand is in my eye’” Jackson explained. “Then I feel the pain but from my view, I just saw two fingers. They looked straight, they didn’t look curled or anything like that but again, I felt the pain so that’s why I felt that he poked me.
“Then I watched the replay later and I see the eye gouge, which is really wild. If I’m being honest, I wish I would have seen the replay of everything before I started doing post-fight interviews because I would have had a different sentiment. He curved his fingers, turned and gouged. Those actions tell me it was intentional and I have a theory on how we got here. The point, I watched the replay and I’m like that motherf***** gouged my eye. He tried to hit me with the Pai Mei eye gouge.”
Prior to the eye gouge, Jackson says he was already compromised from the low blow that left him writhing in pain on the canvas.
Now that move Jackson knows wasn’t on purpose but that didn’t make it hurt any less when it happened, which is why he fell to the floor while trying to recover.
“He threw the kick, he missed his target,” Jackson said. “I guess he missed his target. Because of the trajectory of his foot, his heel caught my balls and boom, he got me. That’s what happened. I go down immediately and people are saying ‘he was faking because he was talking.’ I don’t understand.
“I was in pain but I can still talk. That’s just me. I’m still in pain. Just because I’m in pain doesn’t mean I can’t talk.”
Jackson told Tognoni he was going to need the full five minutes given for a low blow to recover but then he started to think about the game plan he was attempting to execute in the opening round.
After researching his opponent, Jackson determined that Barry was going to be at his most dangerous during those first five minutes but then he expected the Irish fighter to start losing steam.
With his entire strategy centered around making Barry tired so he could then start picking him apart on the feet, Barry didn’t want to allow his opponent any more time to rest while he was attempting to recover from the shot to the groin, which was actually the second in the fight.
“When I come back, my body’s already been compromised from two [low blows],” Jackson said.
Following the eye gouge, Jackson says he was still feeling the after effects from the spinning back kick and that combined with his sight now being compromised as well was just more than he could take to safely continue in the fight.
“[The doctor is] asking me ‘what do you think?’ and I’m like, also, my balls are still burning from the spinning back kick so now I’m dealing with hurt balls and I’ve got one eye,” Jackson said. “I was debating when I was laying on the ground from the nut shot should I just give up now or go? I was like no, f*** that, we’re going to get this one back.
“After the eye gouge, I can’t see. I’m now fully compromised from my balls burning, you gouge my eye. I’m blinking and can’t see. There’s no way I’m going to continue this fight.”
Jackson was declared the winner by disqualification and it wasn’t until later that night back at his hotel when he finally heard what Barry had said about the stoppage.
What was initially going to be an amicable parting of ways after an unfortunate ending transformed into Jackson unleashing on Barry not only for his words after the fight but for the irresponsible actions inside the cage.
“Dean Barry is a dirty f****** cheater of a fighter. Period,” Jackson said. “Now you’re making excuses for your actions? I didn’t kick myself in the d*** twice. I didn’t gouge my eyes out with the Pai Mei eye snatching technique. It was Dean who did these things.
“He’s going to say to the people I’m the one who quit. That in itself is white fragility. Then he has to go through and delete his Twitter cause he’s a piece of s***. He’s a dirty cheating fighter.”
A few days removed from the fight, Jackson is back home and he says his eye was “scratched” but there was no serious damage done from the foul.
After a nearly four-year long layoff between UFC appearances, Jackson isn’t sure what exactly the future holds for his fight career, although he admits he wasn’t exactly banging down the promotion’s door trying to land another bout after he dominated ex-WWE superstar CM Punk back in 2018.
Given what just happened at UFC Vegas 52, Jackson is motivated enough from the altercation with Barry to acknowledge that he would gladly accept a rematch if it was offered to him.
“In the unlikeliness that they said ‘let’s run it back,’ I can’t see them doing that, but in the unlikeliness that they say run it back, 100 percent I’m running it back,” Jackson said. “I still stand by my actions and my words going into the fight. He’s not a better fighter than me.
“If the right opportunity never presents itself, cool. I now have fought in three different decades. I’m 2-1 as a pro MMA fighter. 2-1 in the UFC. My other combat sports record 5-1 outside of MMA so I’m 7-2 as a combat sports pro. I’m cool with that.”