As the International Fight League (IFL) continues to crumble, its rival -- Zuffa-owned World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) -- is wasting little time in picking up the pieces.
In fact, WEC recently signed lightweight veteran Bart "Bartimus" Palaszewski (29-11) to a six-fight deal. The 12-fight IFL veteran -- who went 8-4 for the promotion including a KO victory over eventual IFL lightweight Champion Ryan Schultz (20-9-1) -- has said that he will be ready to fight for the WEC as early as its September 10 event, according to Sherdog.com.
At the time Palaszewski’s move to the WEC was announced, it was still news to him.
Jeff Curran, Palaszewski’s longtime friend and coach, waited until Sunday’s opening of his new training facility in Crystal Lake, Ill., to officially announce the signing, surprising Palaszewski.
Here's a snip from "Bartimus:"
"I guess he wanted to make it a big deal, which it is. He made the announcement in front of our whole gym, family and friends. That’s phenomenal, very cool. It’s definitely the way I would like to find out."
It wasn’t Curran’s only surprise announcement.
Curran (30-10-1), who unsuccessfully challenged Urijah Faber (21-1) for the WEC’s 145-pound strap in December of last year, also announced that he will be dropping to bantamweight (135 pounds).
While "The Big Frog" sees his move to 135 as a chance to "reinvent" his game, the challenge will be equally great, as WEC bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres (34-1) is no slouch himself. In fact, Frank Mir recently said on MMA Live that he places Torres in his pound-for-pound "top two or three."
Here's a snip from Curran:
"I think that the fast pace and the real high technical level is a great fit for me. The talent pool in that division is sick."
Another potential opponent at 135 for Curran is Yoshiro Maeda (23-5-2), whose June unsuccessful title bout with Torres is being hailed as a potential "fight of the year" candidate.
Curran is coming off back-to-back losses at 145 to Faber and current #1 contender Mike Brown (17-4), who are set to face off for the WEC featherweight title on September 10.
Palaszewski recently snapped a three-fight skid with a win over Jeffrey Cox at Adrenaline MMA 1 back in June. The Polish-born fighter is known for two memorable, albeit unsuccessful, IFL battles against 20-year-old rising talent Chris Horodecki (12-1), both by split decision. The striker competed for Pat Miletich’s Silverbacks team for the promotion.
"I think I match up very well with a lot of guys in the WEC," said Palaszewski. "They’ve got a lot of strikers and I think I’m going to put on some phenomenal wars … If I get two really good shows, really good fights against ranked opponents, I think I’ll be able to get a title shot."
Only time will tell. Both announcements spell exciting things to come in the WEC.