Dean Richard Lister is an American MMA fighter, professional grappler and BJJ black belt. He has gone down in history by winning ADCC of the year 2003. Right now he is regarded as one of the most important American grapplers to have ever stepped on the mats. Dean is considered to be one of the pioneers of both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA. He is also responsible for the popularization of leg attacks.
Dean Lister Biography
Dean Lister was born in 1976 in San Diego (California). However, due to his parents’ work in the military, he spends most of his childhood abroad. As a kid, because being always “the new one”, he was often involved in fights and experienced bullying. This was the foundation for his later interest in martial arts and combat sports.
In high school (already back in the USA) he started wrestling. Thanks to his coach Jerry Matsumoto, who also knew a bit about submissions (especially leg locks) and had some Sambo experience, Dean Lister learned not only Wrestling but also some Sambo techniques. This translated into his successes in both disciplines. He became the high school division wrestling champion and a U.S. National Sambo Champion.
Around the year 1996, shortly after finishing high school he started training BJJ in Fábio Santos Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in San Diego. He started competing and winning for his club really quickly and it didn’t stop for 8 years. After this time his and Fabio Santos paths diverged. It was just before Dean received the black belt. We know what happened next mainly from rumors.
The main story circulating in the BJJ forums is that Dean Lister always wanted to become an MMA fighter and BJJ was for him only a way to progress towards that. According to rumors his coach Fabio Santos completely disagreed with that and this dispute was the reason they split up. Later Dean received a black belt from Jeffrey Higgs – one of his colleagues from the club. Unfortunately for Jeffrey, who was a black belt under Fabio Santos, he was kicked out of the academy for that.
Sports career – achievements
Dean Lister quickly made a name for himself in the BJJ world and earned a respectable reputation as a fierce competitor. He competed many times in the ADCC championships. For example, he is the owner of the gold medal from 2011 in the under 99 kg division and silver one from the 2013 ADCC in Beijing, China. However, his most memorable moment was the victory in the Absolute Division in 2003. Surprisingly for most people of the people, Dean ended up winning the tournament submitting 3 of 4 his opponents.
His MMA career flourished after the exposure given by ADCC. Dean Lister went on to fight in the world’s biggest organizations, Pride FC and UFC. He was also champion of the Middleweight category In the mixed martial arts event, King of the Cage. Dean defended the title several times. He has also created his own gym called Victory MMA. Dean is right now a trainer of both Gi and No-Gi there. However, this is not his only coaching experience. For example, he was a grappling coach for Team Ortiz on the Ultimate Fighter series 7 (TUF7) too.
Dean Lister approach to BJJ
He believes that practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu reveals the true character of each person by showing courage, patience, honesty, discipline, innovation, and integrity. Dean also loves the challenge involved in practicing BJJ, because it is constantly evolving. He also stated that one of the reasons why he chose this sport is because is the hardest thing out there he could find. He said BJJ is the biggest and most challenging sport that exists. Dean stayed with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because he found that it was developing himself and influencing the way he lives.
Like many others, top fighters Dean got a nickname. He started to be called “The Boogeyman” at the begging of his journey with MMA. At that time he was fighting for the King of the Cage organization. According to the legend of his nickname, one of his opponents got injured just before the fight and Dean was left with no opponent. Due to the fact he was already a big name in the grappling world, it was extremely hard to find a replacement. People didn’t want to fight him. Because of this situation, he started being called the Boogeyman*. It also said that this nickname suits him because he was already scary before MMA. Dean had been terrifying his rivals with leg attacks long before that. He was kinda one of the pioneers in the art of leglocks.
*The Bogeyman is a mythological monster used by grown-ups to frighten children into good behavior. The term is also sometimes used as a non-specific personification or metonym for terror, and in some cases, the Devil.