The Man Behind the Mic: CFFC Commentator Brian Palakow
CFFC is happy to commend our on air commentator Brian Palakow on a job well done in 2016. To celebrate, CFFC.tv sat down with Palakow to profile the man behind the microphone.
Brian Palakow was born and raised in Bucks County Pennsylvania. His love for sports led him to be a two-sport captain at Council Rock Highschool in Newtown, PA. He was both a standout wrestler and football player. After graduating in 1993, Palakow went on to compete in wrestling collegially and eventually found a new sport to channel his passion towards. That sport was MMA.
“I always had an interest in MMA because of the wrestlers in the sport. I knew Randy Couture, I knew Dan Henderson, and to see them compete in an outlet outside of wrestling was amazing to me. It was an immediate love. Back then I would actually drive multiple hours just trying to find PRIDE shows in video stores.”
After finishing college, Palakow began training Jujitsu and Muay Thai on a regular basis under Damon Umholtz and the late-great Ken Perry. Palakow names Perry as one of his biggest inspirations in life.
In 2010 Palakow decided to take his training to the next level. Some displeasure with his health led him to take on the ultimate challenge of participating in an MMA fight. Palakow did more than just participate in amateur MMA over the next three years--he compiled an official record of 4-0 and won the Asylum Fight League amateur heavyweight championship in 2013. Despite his success, Brian understood that he wasn't destined to be a professional MMA fighter. With a great, full-time job outside of MMA and Father Time working against him, Palakow decided he had proved enough in the cage.
"Getting into fighting was a life goal for me more than anything else. I wanted to get into the cage and test myself. I truly believe you learn most about yourself when those cage doors shut behind you. How you react to getting punched in the face in front of all your friends and family says a lot about yourself. With that being said, I'm still a realist. It was honestly tough to see any kind of window beyond the amateur ranks because of my age. Nonetheless, taking those fights was a huge deal to me. I took them very seriously, and I went into each fight with a lot of passion."
During the three year span that was his fight career, Palakow was approached by an executive from one of the promotions he fought for, New Breed Fighters, about filling in as a color commentator. After a solid showing in his very first position of that kind, Palakow was brought on as a regular. From there his career behind the camera was in full swing. After working with New Breed, Palakow began calling fights for XFE (Xtreme Fight Events). He called several of their broadcasts and then was introduced to Alliance MMA president and former CFFC GM Rob Haydak. By showcasing his commentating talents to Haydak, Palakow was approached about taking the same position for Cage Fury. Obviously, Brian was well aware of the big step up he was taking when he came on with CFFC.
"I've always viewed CFFC as a huge show. You have to be if you're holding events at places like the Borgata right? Regardless, I was up for the challenge, and even though I went through some growing pains, I feel like I've really hit my stride. I'd like to thank our producer Mark Chmielinski and the entire production crew for making me part of the team, and teaching me so much. I'm honored to be a part of it all"
It's now been three years since Palakow's first show with us, and we truly believe he has helped make our shows a pleasure to watch. Viewers at home can really feel the atmosphere of the event through the excitement in his voice.
Of course, when it comes the fight game, for every Mike Goldberg, there is a Joe Rogan. When talking about Brian's relationship with his broadcasting partner, (and UFC fighter) Paul Felder, it's safe to say the two of them go way back. Palakow originally met Felder in 2001 at the Philadelphia-based "A Hold in the Wall Gym". Palakow says their cage-side chemistry comes from knowing each other for so long.
"Paul and I used to train together on Cherry street in Philadelphia three times a week, so we were already close. I actually brought Paul to his first amateur fight. Having that lengthly report makes event nights so natural for us."
Needless to say, Felder has nothing but nice things to say about Palakow.
“Brian has been a great friend of mine for many years. He is a pleasure to work with and he’s always trying to make the production better each and every time we get on the mic. He is intelligent, well spoken, and more importantly a true martial artist. He understands the sport of MMA in all aspects and I very much look forward to future productions with him.”
Perhaps the most admirable aspect of Palakow's fight-calling repertoire is his excitement when he sees fighters achieving their dreams. He knows what it's like to make that walk to the cage, so when he watches others doing it, the exhilaration exuding from his voice is palpable.
“I love seeing fighters succeed. I’ve had my share of success in life and seeing those people do well in a sport that I adore is awesome. When someone that I know works hard on their craft comes away victorious, I share that elation with them. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in that moment.”
When he's not behind the microphone, Palakow works full-time as a member of the permanent magnet industry. He currently serves as Vice President of LE USA WSI INC. He's also a part-owner of 360 magnets which is a company that produces and supplies major electronics and automotive consumers with premier magnetizing equipment worldwide. At home, Brian is a proud father of two children, Jackson and Olivia. Outside of MMA, his hobbies include spending time with his family, and practicing Bikram yoga, which Brian says has helped him greatly.
A man of many talents for sure, Palakow has become an integral asset to our broadcasts, and we are thrilled to have someone as genuine as him on our team.