For all the setbacks it’s faced, UFC Vegas 52 this weekend (Sat., April 23, 2022) inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, is surprisingly short on UFC newcomers. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where it’s impossible to pin down a consistent standard for “UFC-worthy fighter,” we check out an Irish knockout artist originally slated to debut last year and a Sanford MMA-trained product debuting on just three days’ notice.
Dean “The Sniper” Barry
Weight Class: Welterweight
Record: 4-1 (4 KO)
Notable Victories: Abdulla Al Bousheiri
Barry, a decorated karateka, hit an early stumbling block when Anthony Taylor submitted him in the former’s second professional fight. A subsequent two-fight win streak earned Barry a berth in the Octagon, but when his planned debut fell through, he stayed busy with a quick knockout under the Titan FC banner.
“The Sniper’s” karate background is immediately obvious. He fights out of a long, bladed orthodox stance, keeping his hands well below his head and relying on his legs to keep him out of danger. He’s particularly fond of using heavy lead-leg side kicks with an occasional hook kick mixed in, though he seems to be leaning a bit more on his jab of late. His money punch is, unsurprisingly, the straight right, which he’ll throw as a lead or behind the jab.
His grappling is a fair bit less potent. Taylor was 2-5 when he beat Barry in 2018, while 2020 foe Abdulla Al Bousheiri easily took him down and took back mount before gassing, and even the 6-30 Drew Lipton briefly got him to the mat in Dec. 2021. Barry also seemed to gas pretty hard against Al Bousheiri, losing a ton of crispness in his shots within three minutes.
In pure kickboxing, he should be able to hold his own against mid-level Welterweights as long as his gas tank holds up. Unfortunately, his lack of a ground game will forever hold him back from making any sort of impact in the Octagon.
Opponent: He faces Mike Jackson, who’s 10 times the photographer that he is a fighter. “The Truth’s” Octagon adventures have seen him get routed by Mickey Gall, fail to finish C.M. Punk, then see that victory overturned after he tested positive for weed. In other words, Barry eats him alive.
Weight Class: Lightweight/Welterweight
Record: 7-0 (4 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: None
“The Phenom” went 6-1 as an amateur, losing only to Luis Pena, before turning professional in 2018. He largely cut his teeth under the Shamrock FC banner, but picked up wins in both the LFA and FAC cages.
He steps in for Louis Cosce, who came down with COVID, on three days’ notice.
Elder is primarily a stout, technically sound boxer with some power low and head kicks to support his hands. He boasts a stiff jab, solid power and very solid timing on his counters, but what really stands out is his misdirection. He uses feints extremely well and does a great job of setting up head shots with body blows. He’ll also switch mid-combination behind his right hand, which set up a head kick knockout two fights back.
There’s no huge weakness in his stand up that I can see save for a tendency to leave himself open to counters by bursting in with too much momentum.
Though possessed of effective offensive wrestling — primarily with body lock takedowns or long-range double-legs he sets up with feints — he seems to use it mostly as a disruption tactic. In the footage I saw, he didn’t put in a huge amount of effort towards holding his opponents down; it was only when he had full control of the fight that he really went to work on the mat, alternating between elbows and keylock attempts to rack up damage. Honestly, he looked solid on top, so I’d like to see him use that more often.
The only real complains I have about Elder is that his competition has been so-so thus far. He’s good enough that I can call him a prospect, and I’m interested to see where he goes from here.
Tape: He moves up in weight to face one-fight UFC veteran, Preston Parsons. This looks like a coin flip — Elder’s the better striker and has the higher ceiling, but Parsons is a capable wrestler who could use that height advantage to great effect. Regardless of the outcome, I hope Elder gets more opportunities to show his stuff.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 52 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 9 p.m. ET.
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