The UFC is returning to Japan for the first time since December 2000. Thirteen months after that last event in Japan, another milestone was being made, as Bart Palaszewski was making his professional MMA debut at UA 1: The Genesis in Hammond, Indiana. In that fight, “Bartimus” took on fellow future UFC fighter Cole Escovedo.
Unfortunately for Palaszewski, he lost that fight.
It did not begin well for Palaszewski, who actually started his career with four straight losses. He did not get his first career victory until his fifth fight, which took place sixteen months after his debut.
Since then, he has worked his way up the ranks fighting in multiple organizations, including some that no longer even exist. Even though he fought at lightweight for nearly a decade, earning wins over names such as Ivan Menjivar and Anthony Pettis, he did not make his UFC debut until 2011, when he dropped to featherweight for the first time. He fought and defeated Tyson Griffin at UFC 137 last October, earning “Knockout of the Night” for his first round KO of the UFC veteran.
Now he could be in line for a title shot against UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, barring he gets by his opponent this weekend at UFC 144 in hometown star Hatsu Hioki.
Palaszewski enters the fight very confident, in both his own abilities and his own feelings on Hioki’s.
“I match up well with Hioki,” Palaszewski said to MMAFrenzy.com. “I think I match up well and it’s a great matchup because we asked for this fight. His only chance to beat me is on the ground, and even then, I wasn’t that impressed with his ground game against George Roop in his last fight. My striking is a lot better than his, and that is where I can overpower him. Besides, I don’t plan on taking it to the ground.”
“To put it simply, I really just think he’s overrated.”
Even though he enters Hioki’s home country, Palaszewski feels it will not have an effect on the fight. In fact, this will not be his first trip to Japan. He fought and won in Tokyo in September 2004 at ZST 6 against Masayuki Okude. With that experience, Palaszewski feels confident the impact on the fight will be minimal.
“Fighting in Japan doesn’t really matter to me,” said Palaszewski. “It’s just another fight for me. The schedule changes a little bit, but we’ll adjust. I left home maybe three pounds lighter than I usually would, but the cut won’t be too bad. I brought everything I need for the weight cut just in case. You never know what you’re going to be able to find or not find in a different country.”
A veteran of fifty career (sanctioned) fights and with ten years’ experience, coincidentally this is only the second time he has ever left the country, with the other occurrence being his first fight in Japan. Now, nearly ten years to the day after his first career fight, Palaszewski looks back at the significant strides he has made, while remaining to keep an eye on the future.
“When I first started doing this, you had to be a big name to be in the UFC,” Palaszewski said. “I knew there was no way I was going to be picked up. It was rough, and I learned a lot of lessons along the way, but it made me who I am today.”
“With the money that is in the UFC now, a fighter can make a good living nowadays. I never wanted to be the guy that could start 7-0, makes his way to the UFC and loses a few fights and then just disappears. I want to retire in the UFC. It took me a long time to get here, but I’m here to stay.”