Former UFC fighter rolls 'with the punches' at McSweeney Martial Arts in Plano

James McSweeney (left) was a UFC fighter for years before he became the part-owner of a mixed martial arts center in Plano. (Courtesy McSweeney Martial Arts)
James McSweeney (left) was a UFC fighter for years before he became the part-owner of a mixed martial arts center in Plano. (Courtesy McSweeney Martial Arts)

James McSweeney (left) was a UFC fighter for years before he became the part-owner of a mixed martial arts center in Plano. (Courtesy McSweeney Martial Arts)

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Members participate in one of McSweeney Martial Arts' activities. The gym teaches jiujitsu, kickboxing, sparring and strength and conditioning. (Courtesy McSweeney Martial Arts)
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Members perform exercises against a wall while wearing gloves at one of the gym's activity sessions. (Courtesy McSweeney Martial Arts)
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James McSweeney built part of his career on taking hits and delivering them.•But the former UFC fighter said starting a mixed martial arts arts gym a few months before the start of a global pandemic has tested him like nothing else.

“We have to go with the punches,” McSweeney said. “We’ve never had to go through something like this before. It was a learning curve for everybody.”

McSweeney and his business partners started the business last year with the intention of teaching martial arts, from jiujitsu to kickboxing, as well as offering strength and conditioning training.

The Plano area was an attractive business market for them, McSweeney said. But that was before the coronavirus forced them to shut down in March.

The gym was growing in prominence in the weeks before the pandemic struck, McSweeney said. Just before the closures, he said, he had hosted several Dallas Cowboys defensive linemen for a training session.


“And then, bang, we [had] to close, so all of that hype and all of that momentum just came crashing to a complete stop,” McSweeney said.

For weeks, McSweeney taught free classes online, some of which featured other professionals he had met over the course of his career. He said, given the circumstances, that he felt it would be wrong for him to charge for the classes or to restrict access to members.

After reopening, the mixed martial arts center took additional safety steps. It has benefited from its expansive interior, which allowed it to space people out farther, McSweeney said.

The center also prioritized activities for children, including versions of its jiujitsu, kickboxing and mixed martial arts classes.

Now, the business is finding its footing in the Plano community, McSweeney said.

“It wasn’t just a business venture,” McSweeney said. “It was really because we wanted to follow our passion.”

McSweeney Martial Arts

2901 W. 15th St., Ste. B, Plano

469-998-1948

www.mcsweeneymartialarts.com

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-noon, closed Sun.
By Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers Plano city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City and The Dallas Morning News.


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