Now calling Gold Coast, Queensland home, former Muay Thai and MMA heavyweight James McSweeney joins the promoter ranks with Legend MMA set to take place at the Jupiters Casino in Broadbeach this Saturday, 28 January.
The event will be headlined by an international battle with former UFC fighter Steven Kennedy (23-8) coming out of his short retirement to take on South African Dricus du Plessis (9-1).
After 0-2 run in the UFC, Western Australian based Kennedy retired after his last outing where he outpointed his former coach Brian Ebersole at Hex Fight Series 6.
“I had the spark to compete about 2 weeks after calling the retirement,” Kennedy told Fight News Australia.
The 33-year-old has remained active, training and competing in professional boxing bouts since his fight against Ebersole and is looked forward to his match-up against South African prospect Dricus du Plessis.
“I don’t know much about Dricus. I watched some video and he looks solid but I’ll know a lot more after I touch him. I don’t really need to worry about him. (I’ve) just got to do what I’m supposed to do and there should be no dramas,” Kennedy added
“Stillknocks” du Plessis was originally scheduled to face Corey Nelson on the card, however after a reshuffle of the card now moved up to main event status and is coming off a win just last month in South Africa before setting up camp at Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand.
“I’ve set up camp here in Thailand at Tiger and have had an awesome camp fresh from a fight on the 9th of December, so I’m feeling in phenomenal shape. Definitely my best shape yet!” du Plessis advised Fight News Australia.
The 22-year-old is the current welterweight champion of arguably the leading promotion in Africa, Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) Worldwide. Despite his young age and the lessor experience to his opponent, du Plessis does not believe that will be an issue.
“He’s an experienced guy. I mean he obviously has a lot of fights but to be honest I’ve fought guys with just as much experience before and have came out on top and this fight will be no different.
“I believe experience is the only thing he has on me in this fight and that’s going to be his downfall thinking he’s ever faced someone like me before” du Plessis said about his opponent.
In the semi-main event, Arlene Blencowe (7-6) returns to compete in Australia for the first time since a four-fight spell over in Bellator where she went 2-2, most recently losing to Julia Budd via majority decision back in October.
Standing on the other side of the cage from her this weekend will be local Janay Harding (2-2). The two losses Harding has suffered have come at the hands of Invicta FC fighters Jessica Rose-Clark and Megan Anderson via decision.
Among the other notable match-ups on the card, UFC veteran Vik Grujic (7-5) makes his long awaited return when he takes on dangerous New Zealand fighter Luke Jumeau (10-3) while Anthony Johns (3-0) faces off against Julius Poananga (2-0).
When asked about why promoter McSweeney decided to join the promoter ranks, he told Fight News Australia, “I just felt that in Australia and particular the Gold Coast, there is a huge MMA scene here and Australia always has so many fight fans so there’s a huge call for a professional show that can help build athletes, provide fans with a new show that will satisfy the hunger to watch great fights.”
McSweeney has brought in popular ring announcer Lenne Hardt for the event, with former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir flying in to do commentary duties alongside Australian kickboxing legend Sam Greco.
The event will be streamed live via online pay-per-view (geo-permitting) right here at Fight News Australia with a delayed replay expected on Fox Sports Australia.