by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
As the IFL prepares to wrap up their second season this Friday, December 29th at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, the event marks a very successful year for the promotion and its fighters.

Among the fighters that have benefited most by the IFL’s successes in 2006 has been Quad Cities Silverbacks lightweight fighter Bart “Bartamus” Palaszewski.

Bart was one of the most unheralded fighters heading into the promotion, despite being one of the most veteran fighters on the company’s roster. Yet through hard-fought performances Palaszewski has made a name for himself and has become one of the IFL’s signature fighters.

On Friday Bart will be the lead off fighter for the Silverbacks’ quest for a second straight IFL title as he takes on Ryan Schultz of the Portland Wolf Pack, in what promises to possibly the best team battle ever in the relatively short history of the promotion.

“I’ve just been getting ready for it,” said Palaszewski of his recent months. “Schultz is a tough fighter. The Silverbacks are in the finals again and hopefully I can get the ball rolling for the team again. That’s what I’ve been doing so far. I’ve just been getting ready to put on a good show for the crowd.”

As Bart pointed out, Ryan Schultz is one of the toughest fighters in the IFL, but stylistically Palaszewski feels he has an advantage over his opponent and can exploit it fully towards victory.

“I expect to win, just like everybody else does,” exclaimed Bart. “I think he’s going to be pretty aggressive, like he usually is. He throws a lot of wild punches. I’ve never really seen him box or throw clean punches, so I think he’s going to try to take me down – I don’t think he’s going to try to stand with me. If he does, it should be fun. I can definitely out-box him, from what I’ve seen he doesn’t take punches really well.”

And as for the Silverbacks chances against the Wolf Pack, “Overall I feel great. I think we can go 5-0. I mean a fight, is a fight, is a fight, and anything can happen, but we train hard every day busting our butts – wrestling, grappling, a lot of stand-up and sticking to our gameplan.”

The Pat Miletich-coached Silverbacks have once again made it to the finals of the IFL’s World Team Tournament and for Palaszewski it’s been part of a year he feels has been his most outstanding.

“It was a rough start,” said Bart of the IFL’s second season. “I think the four months [layoff] was a long time – for myself it was a long time – I had a lot of ring rust. After that it was pretty good. Like I said, we’re making the finals, so I’m excited once again. The season was definitely longer, obviously, this is our third fight of the season instead of our second, and so I’m just ready to get out there and get it done, get it over with.”

“’06 has definitely been my best year. It’s the longest winning streak I’ve had and hopefully I can keep it [going]. I improved in a lot of things. I’ve just really had my eyes opened to what hard training is all about. I had to really take it seriously with new coaches – new strength, conditioning, wrestling coaches – and just trying to fill all the gaps that I had in my game before,” added Palaszewski.

With a new year just weeks away, Bart expresses a desire to continue to learn and improve, as well as high hopes for the upcoming season three of the IFL.

“I have a lot more to learn,” admitted Palaszewski. “A lot more to improve [upon] and I’m just going to keep training and getting better at everything, stand-up, grappling, overall I’m going to keep getting better and better. You can never be too prepared for a fight.”

Bart continued, “2007, yeah is a long season, we will get a couple months off and I’m looking forward to that actually. [Laughs] We have a busy January through May, but after May 19th we’ll have a three-month break. Hopefully only a three-month break, I mean I hope we make it to the semi-finals and finals once again. I’m just looking forward to that break. The IFL keeps us busy and I love it, but it’s nice to just be able to sleep in a little bit and do nothing. [Laughs]”

As for the IFL, Bart feels proud to be part of the promotion because they’ve been able to produce for him and all the fighters as the initially promised they would.

“I’m very pleased with the IFL,” exclaimed Palaszewski. “They’ve come through with everything they’ve promised, everything they told us in the beginning they’d get us. With money, insurance, keeping giving us fights and everything, they’re coming through with everything they’ve said to us – so I’m very pleased with the IFL.”

Even with a great year almost completely behind him, Bart is focused on the upcoming World Team Tournament finals and his motivation to win and ultimately help his team win isn’t monetary based, but rather focuses on being crowned Champion and what comes with it.

“I’d like to say thanks to my coaches…Jeff Curran, Pat Miletich, my strength and conditioning coach David…and Lunch Box Tattoo,” said Palaszewski. “For the fans, just thanks for the support and I hope I can come through with some fireworks for you guys.”

“I don’t know about the bonuses but I really want that [IFL Championship] ring. It looks really nice; I think it’s going to be a nice little addition to my hand. [Laughs] I hope I can get [IFL Championship] rings for all my fingers and maybe some for my toes too,” concluded Bart with a chuckle.