“Underdog” Palaszewski Thrilled About Win Over Griffin, Silencing “People Talking Smack”
By Kelsey Mowatt
If you had told Bart Palaszewski a few months ago that ‘good things happen to those who wait’, it’s likely the fighter would have taken little comfort in that often cited and somewhat tired expression. But after going nearly one year without fighting, not only did Palaszewski manage to secure a victory in his UFC debut, the 28 year-old-vet did it in memorable fashion by knocking out Tyson Griffin in the first round.
“It’s right up there,” said Palaszewski when asked where his latest win ranks in his near decade long career. “Obviously one of the highlights is when I sealed the deal for the IFL championship, and knocked out (Ryan) Schultz, there’s a couple of other knockouts that I really like, but this is I would say top three.”
Leading into UFC 137, Palaszewski relayed to FCF that the extended lay-off had “been horrible,” as the Jeff Curran trained fighter had yet to compete since he lost by split decision to Kamal Shalorus at WEC 53 last December.
“It’s amazing, coming off a loss and finally getting into the UFC,” Palaszewski noted, who had been scheduled to make his Octagon debut earlier this year but was unable to due to a severe ear infection. “Being the underdog, and people talking smack, asking if I even belong in the UFC, finishing off a top ten guy who was a contender at 155 at one point, and to do it in devastating fashion, without getting hit one time, feels pretty good.”
In the past, Palaszewski has been quick to acknowledge that his wrestling needed to improve, and heading into his recent bout with Griffin, the featherweight worked extensively on his takedown defence. So much so, that when FCF spoke with Palaszewski in September, the charismatic fighter stated that he hoped Griffin would shoot “at least once or twice” at UFC 137.
“We obviously trained to stay out of range, keep him away, where he wasn’t able to shoot super clean on me,” said Palaszewski, while discussing to what extent his wrestling skills played a factor in the win. “It’s kind of hard to shoot when you’re moving backwards, so the plan worked out perfectly.”
“I think that the way I fought, the aggression came from me being comfortable, and not worrying about his wrestling,” Palaszewski (36-14) added. “Even though I didn’t get to use my wrestling, but having confidence in my wrestling set up my striking in that fight….It would have been cool to use a bit more of my wrestling in that fight, but I’ll take the KO you know?”
The day before UFC 137, Griffin originally weighed in at 149 pounds and was unable to make the weight. While reports surfaced afterwards that Palaszewski felt disrespected by the infraction, Griffin stated in a post-fight interview with MMA Fighting, that a recent “bug” had hampered his ability to make weight.
“If that is really what happened then that’s fine you know?” said Palaszewski. “I’m just saying that maybe he underestimated me, but if he was sick and that’s what prohibited him from losing the last couple of pounds that’s fine. But if that’s not the reason why he didn’t make weight then I feel a little bit disrespected.”
In addition to making the highlight reels in his UFC debut, Palaszewski also collected “Knockout of the Night” honors and an extra $75,000, which should help make up for the lack of fight purses earlier this year.
“I had a couple of bonuses in the IFL, and I had one in my first WEC fight, but not 75 grand,” Palaszewski stated. “It’s definitely nice, a nice little bit of padding for my savings account.”
Having secured a win in his Octagon debut, and having gone 4-1 in his last five fights, it will be interesting to see who the UFC looks to match Palaszewski up next in his new home at 145 pounds.
“I don’t want to go backwards, so I definitely want a top seven, top five guy,” Palaszewski said. “Tyson was ranked eight or nine, in a couple of different rankings, so I want someone higher than that; that would be ideal. While I’m not in a position to hunt the belt just yet, I want to keep moving in that direction.”
Photo credit: MarianaMizzle