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21st Oct 2017

KSW star James McSweeney’s comments about Ireland seem very sad now

The Dublin card has a new main event

Ben Kiely

James McSweeney

James McSweeney will not be headlining the KSW Dublin card, and rightly so.

When it comes to combat sports, fighter safety is of paramount importance. So when James McSweeney wasn’t medically cleared by SAFE MMA Ireland, KSW did the right thing an pulled him from Sunday’s main event in the 3Arena.

Mariusz Pudzianowski (11-5-1NC) will now fight former UFC and Bellator middleweight Jay Silva (10-11-1), who is set to make his heavyweight debut in the headline act.

The late switch means that McSweeney, who dons the tri-colour in the posters promoting the event, won’t make his long-awaited Irish debut on Sunday. Considering he had come out of retirement to fight Pudzianowski, it might be too late for him to ever fight on Irish soil.

Although he was raised in England, McSweeney was born in Cork. His father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncles and cousins are from Ireland. He was relishing the opportunity to fight in the country he was born in and he even had something special planned for his walkout.

“I’ve come over numerous times for different visits, but this is the first time that I’m actually going to be here to fight. I’ve fought everywhere else in the world. You name a country, I probably fought there. This is why it was so appealing to me to come here to fight. This is something that I’m destined to do.

“For my comeback fight after being away for so long, this was the perfect platform. I feel like I would get the warmest welcomes from the Irish fans that backed me the most. It was the little bit of incentive that I needed.”

McSweeney has always considered himself British, although he recognises that he is technically from Ireland. Carrying the tri-colour for his comeback was supposed to pay tribute to the Irish side of his family, something he spoke of with great pride.

“Yes (it was my decision to wear the tri-colour on the KSW 40 poster). When I fought in England, and I’m respectful to the country I was brought up in, I did the same thing there. I feel to come here and almost ignore one side of my family, which I would never do in a million years… I wouldn’t do that.”

“Also, I respect the country and the people and this is a part of my life, this is a part of my blood, this is a part of my DNA, right? I’m not going to deny that and I’m very proud of it. To wear the Irish flag, I was very proud.” 

KSW made the correct decision and deserve the plaudits for pulling McSweeney at the 11th hour, but it’s hard not to feel for him. It took over a decade into his professional combat sports career for him to finally get the call to fight in Ireland. The day before the fight, that opportunity has vanished.