John Sweeney’s father first introduced him to combat sports at the age of six putting him into wrestling. When he was in tenth grade he joined a MMA gym Upstate Karate to lose some weight for wrestling. From there he fell in love with the sport. Sweeney would go on to win a kickboxing world title and a few amateur MMA fights while in high school. He ended up going to college, but it didn’t go as planned so he quit to chase his MMA career. Shortly after, Sweeney turned pro.
“I realized I was going to be good at mma at a very young age. I was a very cocky kid even more than I am now and I felt I had natural fighting and finishing ability and I was very athletic for a chubbier kid.”
“Hollywood” first stepped into a cage for a fight as a young kid in 2014. He fought as an amateur from 2014 to 2016 obtaining a 5-1 record. To close out his time as an ammy, he won the Conflict MMA bantamweight championship.
When you first describe the fighting style of Sweeney, he’s usually labeled more as a wrestler. As a matter of fact, he’s been training for years at Upstate Karate for his whole career with Stephen Thompson. Sweeney is also a black belt in karate, which he earned when he was 21.
When Sweeney made his debut in 2017 for LFA on the main card – it was a pretty big deal. In his two LFA fights, he won by submission; and in his fight with Shelton Sales, he put him to sleep in a standing guillotine. After that, he won another fight before suffering his first setback as a pro. It was a close fight, and was it was his fourth fight that year.
2018 was a strong year for John Sweeney, racking up three wins. A split-decision win over Bellator fighter Keith Lee stood out among the three names. After those group of wins, Sweeney had a record of 6-1 with five finishes. A UFC shot didn’t come, but some bigger fights came his way.
2018 was a big year for Sweeney, but 2019-2020 was the complete opposite. He had a big opportunity off his win streak against the then-undefeated Phil Caracappa. It was for the Ring of Combat bantamweight title and Sweeney fell short. Then Sweeney ended up losing to Cody Durden. Caracappa got a Contender Series spot after beating Sweeney, and Durden signed to the UFC. So, Sweeney was close to a UFC call-up possibly…
“When I suffered those two losses back to back I realized some of the things I had going on in my life had to change. Both of those losses could have been avoided completely. After I suffered the first one at ROC, I took some time off, too much time, so when I came back to the competition I already wasn’t the most experienced,” said Sweeney. “I still had some things to work on just like I have things to work on now. So I entered that fight for NFC and I didn’t get to fight to my true potential. Just another lesson needing to be learned. After that fight, I began competing in jiu-jitsu tournaments and fight after the fight because if you don’t want to make mistakes in a fight you must stay active. So that’s what I began to do and now we are here.”
Now at 27-years-old, this is the best Sweeney has looked in his career. After dropping two in a row, he’s won his last four, which is the biggest streak of his career. In his last two fights, he beat former UFC fighters in Leonardo Morales and more notably, Cole Smith. Knockout power, a diverse kicking game, strong wrestling, solid jiu-jitsu, and a good gas tank. Sweeney has truly come full circle in his career.
John is now 10-3 and on a four-fight win streak. He is someone that had some hype in 2018, and it quickly fizzled out. It seemed he was forgotten for a little while. He’s quietly gotten back to a big opportunity shot though, and his last fight against Cole Smith being such a great fight has put more eyes on him. Maybe a Contender Series fight is on the horizon, or at best a straight UFC contract. Either way Sweeney has a message for UFC president Dana White.
“I’m the type of fighter that the organization loves and that he (Dana) really enjoys watching. I always come to put on a show. I have charisma, character, heart, style, and the most important the skills to pay the bills. I work tremendously hard and I can strike in any stance. I can defend the takedown and I can go get one. And lastly I’m a finisher…”