Bart "Bartimus" Palaszewski says he's never been in a street fight. "The closest I've came is having somebody push me at a bar, I just went and got the bouncers," he says. It's not surprising after you've spent anytime speaking with him, and experience his laid back and respectful demeanor. For Palaszewski MMA is a labor of love, not a reflection of street survival. He's a gentleman in a sport that has it share of ruffians.
When Palaszewski, who hails from Wonder Lake, IL, tells the tale of how he got involved in MMA, he says the name Jeff Curran frequently. He refers to Curran as his "mentor," and the vast amount of respect he has for Curran is obvious. Palaszewski, 24, started training at Curran Martial Arts in April 1999, only 3 years removed from his native Poland. It was in December of that year, that Palaszewski would have his introduction to the world of MMA, when Curran invited him to watch one of his locally produced XFO shows.
"I wasn't sure what the show was about, I just kind of went along with it," Palaszewski, says. "I didn't even know that MMA existed," he continues, "but when I saw that show I fell in love with it."
After witnessing his first MMA event, Palaszewski was eager to embark on his own MMA career. He stayed under Curran's tutelage, begging to begin his fighting career, "until one day he decided I was old enough to fight."
After a stint in the amateur ranks, Palaszewski turned pro in 2002. He lost his first four professional fights, but quitting never entered his mind. "I didn't care" says Palaszewski, as fighting was more than him to than just wins and losses. "In the long run, it might have hurt me having all those losses on my record," says Palaszewki, who currently sports a record of 28-9.
In a growing sport like MMA, early career losses don't carry near the weight they would in other combat sports like boxing. Palaszewski is a testament this, as he is currently one of MMA's up and comers at 155 pounds. He is now far removed from his inauspicious start, only two victories away from becoming the first lightweight champion of the IFL.
Palaszewski will face a stern test in his quest to become an IFL champ. On November 3rd, he will rematch against Chris Horodecki in the IFL individual Grand Prix Semi-finals. Horodecki handed Palaszewski his first loss in the IFL, garnering a split decision win in February of this year.
Palaszewski's calm demeanor shows through in the interview process. He makes it clear that he does not have any personal grudge against Horodecki, in fact he praises him as a good fighter. In a time where so many fighters take any opportunity they can to trash talk and belittle their opponents, Palaszewski is a breath of fresh air. Sure, he would like to avenge the loss, but the most important thing to him is simply "to put on a good show for the fans".
It is this dedication to entertainment that has provided fans of "Bartimus," a nickname given to Palaszewski from Curran, with plenty of great matches. He has ended 11 of his fights by (T)KO, a mark very high for a lightweight. Palaszewski's stand and bang mentality is all for the fans, if entertainment wasn't an issue he would try and utilize more jiu-jitsu, which he considers his strongest asset as a fighter.
On November 3rd, Palaszewski will use every ounce of his punching power, to try and finish Horodecki and not leave the fight in the hands of the judges. If he succeeds in winning the fight, and avenging his prior loss, he will be only one fight away from becoming the lightweight champion of the IFL. Not too bad for someone who started off 0-4 as a pro.