AFC 17 recap: Tai Tuivasa defeats James McSweeney to retain heavyweight title

Australian Fighting Championships 17 took place at the Melbourne Pavilion Saturday night. In the main event, the AFC heavyweight title was on the line between Brit veteran James McSweeney and rising Sydney star and current champion Tai Tuivasa. The bout was a fast paced, back and forth match-up, which was unfortunately halted prematurely due to an eye injury on McSweeney.

The fight began with Tuivasa connecting with a solid body kick. McSweeney then rushed in with punches and a knee and continued to push for the takedown. Tuivasa defended well, whilst attempting for knees himself. The pair pushed away from the clinch. McSweeney threw a powerful overhand right, Tuivasa reciprocated with a takedown attempt which was reversed by McSweeney. Tuivasa quickly got back to his feet, clinched and began to throw knees. A grapple against the fence ensued with both fighters actively going for more knees. Tuivasa pushed McSweeney back with a wild array of punches and a kick. Tuivasa went for a suplex throw, but McSweeney landed in a dominant position and began to attack with ground and pound. Tuivasa managed to get back to his feet, McSweeney proceeded with a flurry of strikes. Tuivasa caught a kick and tripped his opponent. Tuivasa then attacked with a powerful heel kick to a downed McSweeney’s chest. Whilst Tuivasa’s leg was tangled up, McSweeney attempted for a knee bar. Tuivasa managed to defend the submission and worked for a dominant position on the ground. Tuivasa now began to pepper away with ground and pound. McSweeney, however, stood up and landed with an overhand right. A grapple ensued with McSweeney working for a submission in side control. McSweeney got to his feet, while Tuivasa was still on his knees he connected on the Brit with a strong overhand right, then aimed for the takedown. The round ended with the two visibly exhausted combatants exchanging strikes.

At the end of the round, McSweeney’s corner was forced put a stop to the match. With the win, Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa retains his AFC heavyweight title and takes his undefeated streak to seven wins. Post-match, Tuivasa made it clear that he was ready at any time for a UFC call-up opportunity.

With over 30 fights behind him, McSweeney took to social media the following Monday to announce that the clash would be his last fight (see Facebook post below).

Good morning everyone, hope you are all well?
So its monday after my fight saturday night, my vision in my left eye has…

Posted by James Mcsweeney on Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rob Hill and Ben Wall had a closely contested, competitive back and forth battle in their lightweight tournament semi-final match up. Both fighters brought it in the striking and the grappling department with multiple takedowns achieved by both men. In the eyes of the judges, Hill’s execution was crisper thus earning him the unanimous decision win and a finals spot in the tournament.

In the other lightweight tournament semi-final bracket, Queenslander Gokhan Turkyilmaz took on Kiwi James Bishop. In what was a battle of the “Pitbulls” Turkyilmaz had a dominant showing early on, looking the more technical of the two, but a strong knee from a resilient Bishop dropped his opponent and then proceeded to finish with punches forcing a stoppage of the bout mid-way through round one, earning Bishop a spot in the final. Bishop and Hill will now contest the AFC lightweight strap on a future event.

Also on the card, teammate of Tuivasa, Sydney’s Tyson Pedro dismantled Kiwi Steven Warby in his second showing for the promotion. Pedro got the takedown early and began to control his opponent on the ground. Picking his shots calmly from top position, Pedro was able to sink in a rear-naked choke forcing Warby to tap at the 3:05 mark of round one.


  • Tai Tuivasa def. James McSweeney via TKO (Corner Stoppage), Rd 1, 5:00 – AFC heavyweight title
  • Rob Hill def. Ben Wall via Decision (Unanimous)
  • James Bishop def. Gokhan Turkyilmaz via TKO (Knee & Punches), Rd 1, 2:27
  • Tyson Pedro def. Steven Warby via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Rd 1, 3:05
  • William Namoa def. Peter davenport via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Marko Orlovic def. Ramen Habib via Decision (Split)
  • Mikey Vaotuua def. Dane Beeby via Decision (Unanimous)
  • Chris Wase def. Shane Parker via Submission (Kimura), Rd 2, 3:50
  • Daniel Schuardt def. Sebastian Temesi via Decision (Unanimous)
  • John Mitchell def. Kevin Bentley via TKO (Punches), Rd 2, 2:26
  • Zhu Jun def. Harlem Ottoway via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Rd 1, 2:05
  • Kairin Moses def. Joshua Riley via TKO (Punches), Rd 2, 3:04

Tai Tuivasa dispatches Brandon Sosoli in seconds to claim AFC heavyweight title

David Lewellin is a Melbourne based contributor for Fight News Australia.