UFC 137 Under The Radar: Griffin vs. Palaszewski

Tyson Griffin

Spike TV featherweight fight could produce fireworks

With all the drama and star power surrounding the UFC 137 fight card, it’s easy for a couple of quality match-ups to slide out of the spotlight. Fighting for attention in the shadows of BJ Penn, Nick Diaz and the recently-removed GSP will do that.

There were a few bouts that could have received the Under the Radar treatment this time around. The UFC debut of Hatsu Hioki opposite George Roop is interesting on all kinds of levels, while Jeff Curran’s return to the big leagues against former title challenger Scott Jorgensen is a solid pairing as well.

In the end, there can be only one choice, and this time around, I’ve landed in the featherweight division for a bout that has Fight of the Night written all over it.

Tyson Griffin vs. Bart Palaszewski

Tyson Griffin (15-5, 8-5 UFC)

WIN UFC OV4 Manny Gamburyan (Majority Decision)
LOSS UFC 123 Nik Lentz (Split Decision)
LOSS UFC OV2 Takanori Gomi (KO, Round 1)

Bart Palaszewski (33-13, UFC Debut)

LOSS WEC 53 Kamal Shalorus (Split Decision)
WIN WEC 50 Zach Micklewright (TKO, Round 2)
WIN WEC 47 Karen Darabedyan (Submission, Round 1)

Why I Love This Fight

These are the exact kind of match-ups I was looking forward to seeing when the UFC brought over the featherweight and bantamweight divisions.

Griffin was always too small for the lightweight class, but managed to put together a respectable record despite his stature. He won six of seven fights after losing a close contest to Frankie Edgar way back at UFC 67, including notching victories over Clay Guida, Gleison Tibau, and Rafael dos Anjos.

He returned to featherweight for the first time since the fourth fight of his career back in June, and collected a majority decision win against Manny Gamburyan. Considering Gamburyan was coming off a title fight loss to Jose Aldo, that should tell you what kind of immediate impact Griffin is capable of making in the 145-pound ranks.

Palaszewski is making the move down in weight after being forced from his UFC debut back in May with an inner ear issue. While he’s been a lightweight his entire career, he’s wanted to make the move to featherweight for a while, but never had the time off to drop the weight properly. He’s done that now, and could produce immediate results.

These are two very veteran fighters who aren’t just looking to enjoy their time in the UFC. They’re both hungry to make a run at the featherweight title, especially considering the division is going to get an influx of talent in the next couple months courtesy of The Ultimate Fighter.

This is a Fight of the Night waiting to happen.

Griffin has five such trophies on his mantle at home already, earning three-in-a-row for his bouts with Edgar, Guida, and then Thiago Tavares back in 2007, and both fighters are hard to put away; Gomi is the only opponent who has finished Griffin, and 10 of Palaszewski’s 13 career losses came on the scorecards.

Palaszewski has the power advantage and is the better of the two off his back, while the compact and explosive Griffin is the superior wrestler and has the faster hands of the two.

I can see this bout playing out a lot like Griffin’s UFC 115 battle with Evan Dunham. Palaszewski is the taller of the two by a couple inches and will work to keep Griffin on the end of his jab and kicks, and counter effectively, while Griffin will look to close the distance, use his wrestling, and make this into a grind.

While there are a few contenders ahead of them in the division, the line is nowhere near as long as it is at lightweight. Griffin jumped into the top 10 with his win over Gamburyan, so the winner of this could conceivably land somewhere between five and seven in the division, putting them in line for another exciting match-up in early 2012.

With that kind of opportunity awaiting the victor, I can see this one being a very spirited affair that kicks off the Spike TV portion this event in style. Don’t be surprised if Griffin and Palaszewski end up taking home some extra money at the end of the night either.