Bart Palaszewski Wants UFC Featherweight Belt, Hopes Tyson Griffin “Shoots at Least Once or Twice”
By Kelsey Mowatt
With the beginning of October just days away, many of World Extreme Cagefighting’s most established fighters have made their Octagon debut long ago, after the Zuffa promotion was absorbed into the Ultimate Fighting Championship to begin 2011. While notable WEC names like Ben Henderson, Jose Aldo and Donald Cerrone, amongst many others, have now become UFC regulars, one of the defunct promotion’s most experienced fighters in Bart Palaszewski has yet do so.
“It’s been horrible,” said Palaszewski, who hasn’t competed since last December, when he lost by split decision to Kamal Shalorus at the final WEC card. “Sitting this long, I don’t think it’s going to be the ring rust, it’s going to be just being anxious. I don’t like this; I don’t like sitting around, I like throwing down.”
The 28 year-old Palaszewski was set to make his Octagon debut in May against lightweight Cody MacKenzie, before both men were eventually forced to withdraw from the card due to injuries or illness.
“Closer to the fight, I had started to feel weird and dizzy,” Palaszewski told FCF. “I went to the doctor for a MRI and they kept saying it’s nothing, but all my symptoms were like I had a concussion, so I was like ‘what the hell is going on?’ I don’t know how many specialists I’ve seen….then one of the doctors said to go see an ear and throat specialist, and sure enough I had a virus that attacked a nerve in my ear that disturbed your balance. It sucked.”
Now, after going throughout 2011 to date without fighting, Palaszewski is finally set to make his UFC debut on October 29th. The 35-14 fighter will do so, however, as a featherweight rather than at 155lbs.
“It wasn’t the loss to Kamal,” said Palaszewski, while discussing his decision to drop to 145lbs. “I’ve always wanted to do 145 but I knew I never had the time to do it. I worked really hard for a long, long time to get to a size that I wanted to. I wasn’t a small lightweight, I was pushing 190lbs., but it was so much freaking work to get up there and stay there…Getting sick in May I knew that I was going to be out for a while so I thought’s let’s do this now.”
“It took so much work to stay at 55,” Palaszewski added. “A lot of weightlifting, I was eating just a ton of food man; I was eating like a horse, but to get to 45 it’s taking a lot of work but it’s different…I hate doing cardio, but I love being in good shape, and one thing I know is that at 145 I won’t be getting tired.”
Palaszewski’s first test as a featherweight will come against former lightweight Tyson Griffin (15-5), who is coming off a majority decision win over Manny Gamburyan in June.
“I said ‘hell yes” right away,” said Palaszewski, when asked for his reaction upon being asked to fight the Xtreme Couture featherweight. “I’d been sitting for a long time so I knew if I said no to Tyson who knows when I would have gotten another fight. I’ll fight anyone anyways, and Tyson is a good wrestler who likes to throw down.”
Of course, by dropping down to 145, the 5’9 tall Palaszewski will likely have a reach and length advantage more often now, as will be the case when he faces the 5’6 Griffin.
“I think he’s going to try to stand with me until he gets hit,” said Palaszewski, who knocked out Zachary Micklewright at WEC 50 last August. “A lot of strikers seem to become wrestlers really fast once I punch them. I think once I crack him I think he’ll try to take me down, if he doesn’t try to take me down from the beginning. The key word is try. I’ve been busting my ass hardcore with top level wrestlers. We’ve brought in some guys, who as far as wrestling pedigree goes, are probably better wrestlers then some of the best guys in MMA.”
“I definitely hope he shoots at least once or twice,” Palaszewski furthered. “I want to see whether what I’ve been working on worked.”
Prior to his tightly contested, split decision loss to Shalorus, Palaszewski had been on the move in the WEC lightweight division by winning four straight fights. Now, the Jeff Curran trained fighter is hoping to build on that success as a UFC featherweight.
“If I didn’t think I could get that belt I wouldn’t be fighting,” Palaszewski said while discussing his aspirations at 145lbs. “I’m not one of those guys who’s fighting just so I can say that I’m fighter…I want that belt and I’m not going to stop until I get it.”