After living in several different cities in the United States, Lister's family settled in San Diego for Dean's high school years.
He started wrestling in high school, and became the high school division wrestling champion and a U.S. National Sambo Champion. Shortly after graduating from high school, Dean Lister visited the Fábio Santos Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in San Diego with his wrestling teammates, and became very interested in the sport. He started competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 1996, six months after he started training.
Since 1997, Dean has been working as an instructor for Santos. Lister teaches both beginner and advanced students at The Boxing Club in San Diego. The classes typically begin with Dean teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques, followed by Jiu Jitsu sparring.
Dean Lister currently holds the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, given to him by Jeffrey Higgs, who holds a black belt under Fábio Santos. He maintains that is "the biggest and most challenging sport that exists". Lister does not favor any particular technique, although he is mostly known for his leg attacks (foot locks and knee locks).
Dean was invited three times (2000, 2003, and 2005) to the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) championship, a prestigious grappling tournament consisting only of top 16 grapplers in the world of each weight class. Lister won the Abu Dhabi Absolute Division championship in 2003, as well as two Superfights in 2003 and 2005; in addition, he set a tournament record by defeating 4 of his opponents consecutively (3 by submission) in 2003.
It is worth noting that one of Lister's MMA losses is against Nathan Marquardt whom Lister submitted in the 2003 ADCC tournament.
Dean’s overall record includes 11 wins and 5 losses, with over 9 of these wins coming by submission. Dean Lister has never been knocked out or submitted in an MMA competition. 9 of his victories have come by submission.
UFC 79 on December 29, 2007: Lister wins by unanimous decision of 30-27. This bout was not aired on the broadcast.
|Win||11-5||Jeremy Horn||Submission (Guillotine Choke)||Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale||1||3:53||Nevada, United States|
|Win||10-5||Jordan Radev||Decision (Unanimous)||UFC 79 - Nemesis||3||5:00||Nevada, United States|
|Loss||9-5||Nathan Marquardt||Decision (Split)||UFC - Fight Night 8||3||5:00||Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, FL|
|Win||9-4||Yuki Sasaki||Decision (Unanimous)||UFC - Fight Night 6||3||5:00||Nevada, United States|
|Win||8-4||Alessio Sakara||Submission (Triangle Choke)||UFC 60 - Hughes vs. Gracie||1||2:20||California, United States|
|Loss||7-4||Ricardo Arona||Decision (Unanimous)||PRIDE - Total Elimination 2005||3||5:00||Osaka, Japan|
|Win||7-3||Akira Shoji||Submission (Triangle Choke)||PRIDE - Bushido 6||1||3:13||Yokohama, Japan|
|Loss||6-3||Amar Suloev||Decision (Split)||PRIDE - Bushido 4||2||5:00||Nagoya, Japan|
|Loss||6-2||Jeremy Horn||Decision (Majority)||KOTC 31 - King of the Cage 31||4||5:00||California, United States|
|Win||6-1||James Lee||Submission (Armbar)||KOTC 29 - Renegades||1||California, United States|
|Win||5-1||Brian Sleeman||Submission (Omoplata)||KOTC 25 - Flaming Fury||1||1:14||San Jacinto, CA|
|Win||4-1||Brendan Seguin||Submission (Armbar)||KOTC 16 - Double Cross||3||4:37||California, United States|
|Win||3-1||Jacen Flynn||Submission (Kimura)||KOTC 12 - Cold Blood||2||4:28||California, United States|
|Win||2-1||Jerry Jenkins||Submission (Heel Hook)||KOTC 11 - Domination||1||4:24||California, United States|
|Loss||1-1||Jacen Flynn||Decision||KOTC 7 - Wet and Wild||3||5:00||California, United States|
|Win||1-0||John Jensen||Submission (Kneebar)||KOTC 5 - Cage Wars||1||1:50||California, United States|