by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
After the first two seasons of the IFL one thing was clear, the Quad Cities Silverbacks under the coaching of Pat Miletich were the team to beat. Going undefeated through five team battles, the Silverbacks won back-to-back IFL Championships.

One of the main reasons for the team’s success was lightweight Bart “Bartimus” Palaszewski, who fought hard and won all five of his individual fights and established himself as one of the league’s breakout stars.

So when Palaszewski and the Silverbacks headed into the 2007 IFL season against the Los Angeles Anacondas in February it appeared that a three-peat could be a definite possibility, but things didn’t go the way the team had anticipated.

Not only did Bart lose his fight, a three-round controversial split-decision to youngster Chris Horodecki, but also the Silverbacks fell 2-3 to the Anacondas. For the first time they found themselves on the outside looking in at the IFL’s World Team Tournament bracket.

But such is life; both Palaszewski and the Silverbacks have an opportunity to get back on the winning track this weekend in Moline, Illinois against the Ken Shamrock-coached Reno Lions.

“We’re really not changing much,” replied Bart when asked if the Silverbacks had any alterations to their routine after suffering their first ever loss. “We’re still training a lot.”

He continued, “Nothing’s changing other than maybe we’re training a little harder now. Pat’s really cracking the whip on us right now.”

Not only do the Silverbacks want to get back to prominence, but Bart also wants to get back to the winning ways that saw him go undefeated in the first two seasons of IFL action.

“The fight went really the way I wanted, and in my eyes and many peoples’ eyes I won the fight,” said Palaszewski of his loss to Chris Horodecki in February. “I just kind of got ripped off pretty much, that’s what it comes down to.”

“I thought he was going to stand with me, he obviously didn’t, and he didn’t want to stand with me after he got clipped. He’s supposed to be a stand-up guy and [just] ended up taking me down, that’s all,” added Bart.

The reason why Palaszewski feels that fighters in the promotion, even those with striking pedigrees, refuse to stand and trade with him is simple.

“I think I’ve got the heaviest hands in the lightweight division of the IFL,” stated Bart. “Nobody wants to stand with me; everybody’s trying to take me down.”

Palaszewski further commented with a laugh, “Nobody’s trying to trade with me, so one thing I’ve worked on is a lot of grappling and takedown defense. Like I said, nobody wants to be hit by me, because they usually look like they stepped into a puddle [and fall down] when I hit them.”

When questioned about if he feels that his opponent this weekend, John Gunderson of the Lions, would buck the trend and stand and trade with him, Bart answered that he feels that it will be much of the same game he’s faced before in the IFL.

“It looks like he’s got a decent shot, a decent grappler, and because he’s a little guy, he’ll try to take me down as well,” said Palaszewski. “He looks like a small 155’er, so he won’t try to trade with me. It’s going to be a real similar fight like it was with [Ryan] Schultz.”

Bart continued, “He’s going to come, bring the pressure forward, and try to take me down. He’s not going to stand with me, there’s no way he’s going to stand with me. I just don’t see it happening.”

And if the fight goes to the ground, Palaszewski feels he’s prepared well enough to ensure that he will be able to handle himself adeptly.

“I worked a lot on my grappling and takedown defense and my takedowns all together. So if I get taken down and get held down and not be able to stand-up, I guess I’ll just grapple with him,” explained Bart. “It’s not exciting. I don’t think it’s exciting for the fans to see that, but I’m prepared.”

“If it goes to the ground, we’ll play on the ground. If he wants to stand with me, I’m more than happy to stand with anybody. I’ll go tit-for-tat with anybody,” further exclaimed Palaszewski.

One of the reasons that many people feel factored into the Silverbacks 0-1 start this season was the loss of welterweight standout Rory Markham from the team’s February competition due to eye surgery.

Without the one-two punch of Bart and Rory, it became difficult for the Silverbacks to keep up with the Anacondas. And Palaszewski acknowledges the fact that even with adept replacements, such as Sam Hoger filling in for Mike Ciesnolevicz this weekend; it can be tough for a team to succeed.

“I think the last show it was definitely a loss to us not having Rory,” admitted Bart. “His guy [replacement Victor Moreno] I don’t think was up to par. This show, with Sam, I’m not sure. The truth is I’ve never had a chance to see his fights, so I’m not sure how it will go.”

Palaszewski added, “I think any time you have to fill in with a different person, I don’t care if he’s from the same gym training with you for years and years, it’s still a disadvantage. We have a camaraderie going on in between the five of us. We have a little brotherhood going on. So any time somebody’s hurt or can’t make a fight for whatever reason, I think it puts a little stress on the team all together.”

With the Anacondas and the surprising Tokyo Sabres both improving their team records to 2-0 last month, Bart knows that the Silverbacks have to step up and perform individually and as a team if they hope to keep up and make the four-team WTT bracket at season’s end.

“The pressure’s always on, even in that first fight,” explained Palaszewski. “In the next two we have to go at least 4-1 [in each team competition].”

“We really have to step up. If you have teams with the same [overall team] record, then the one that has gone 4-1 [in their fights] will be picked over the one that went 3-2. We want to go 5-0 all the time, but we have to at least get 4-1 to be comfortable and not worry about making it into the tournament,” continued Bart.

So now is the time for Palaszewski and the Quad Cities Silverbacks to show the IFL why they are the two-time defending league champions and that they are still one of the elite teams at this Saturday’s event in Moline, Illinois against the Reno Lions. Their whole season could be depending on it, and with backs against the wall, it should be a great show.

“I just want to thank my coaches; Jeff Curran, Doug Mango, Pat Miletich, Dave Davis at the Davis Speed Center, and all my training partners and teammates,” concluded Bart. “I hope everybody comes out to Moline and supports us. I hope I can put on a good show for everybody.”