The Polish Prince of Spartan Football has officially hung up the Michigan State cleats.
After tying the record for most games played for MSU, Jacub Panasiuk has given East Lansing plenty to scream about. Top ten in sacks in program history, about 150 tackles and one of the best seasons a player could have in 2021.
Panasiuk’s career at MSU was one hell of a ride, and while his time in green and white may have come to an end, it opened the door to a promising shot at an NFL career.
“Right now I am in Fort Myers doing combine and Pro Day training, which are just drills for coaches on March 16th for our Pro Day,” Panasiuk said. “We got the bench press, we got the vertical jump, 5-10-5’s, just a bunch of different drills. We’re also doing position work down here working with my coach, Nate O’Neil, who’s my position coach. We’re going through techniques, fundamentals and stuff like that for my Pro Day.”
The next few months will come with a lot more pressure concentrated into a much smaller window than a collegiate career, but Panasiuk can think of almost nothing but upsides.
“There’s definitely some benefits,” Panasiuk laughed. “You get a lot more free time, I get to do a lot of outside activities that you don’t normally get to do during football season. I get to go out and golf a little bit more now, I get to go fishing and the number one bonus is being able to watch all of the UFC cards all the way through on Saturday. I don’t have any games now so I can actually watch the full card, prelims and everything.”
"When we go out, it's like playing for each other..."— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) November 8, 2018
Mike and Jacub Panasiuk discuss their Polish heritage and their bond on and off the field in this feature from Spartans All-Access by @Spartan_Vision. pic.twitter.com/e43NHeyVoM
There are very few fighters Panasiuk doesn’t consider “must see TV,” but he’s made no mistake about it, he’s always been partial to the fighters who share his Polish heritage.
Blachowicz is still his 205 champ, Kowalkiewicz beat Thug Rose back in the day, 20-1 (1) Mateusz Gamrot is the new king of violence in the UFC’s most brutal division and, of course, there’s always Joanna Violence.
We may know Jedrzejczyk as the former champ, but inside of Poland she’s still the rockstar she was during her title reign.
“She’s a superstar,” Panasiuk said. “Poland is such a small country compared to the United States that people don’t realize in the U.S. there’s hundreds of stars, athletes that just stick out to everybody. If you’re the face of a sport in Poland, any sport, you’re going to have a lot of pride behind you. She still is viewed as an amazing athlete representing the country of Poland.”
Even without the strawweight belt, Jedrzejczyk continues to be one of the most feared fighters in the UFC and one of the last names you’d want to see next to yours.
“She had the Fight of the Year with Zhang [Weili] in 2020 and I think she’s just on a little career rollercoaster,” Panasiuk said. “She’s just got her ups and downs right now. I think she’s just waiting for the right moment to come back.”
In the past couple months, Panasiuk has noticed a little bit of dialogue between Jedrzejczyk and Zhang through social media, journalists and other ways fighters send messages to one another without having to send messages to one another.
Whether it’s happening or not doesn’t matter to Panasiuk, because after the two gave us one of the greatest fights of all-time, it’s still fun to think about.
“I saw something about Joanna saying that a lot of people have been coming up to her and telling her that Weili hasn’t been the same since they fought,” Panasiuk said. “In Weili’s first fight against Rose it was an early head kick KO but then she came back and showed that it was a fluke, kind of, in a way. She stood her ground, went to a decision and it could’ve gone either way between Rose and her, so I have high expectations for it. I think with Joanna taking all of this time, she’s going to hopefully have a really strong return.”
Panasiuk has played a rematch out in his mind more than a few times, and the result always seems to be the same.
“I think it would go another five,” Panasiuk said. “I think that it’s just going to be a great fight again. I think both are going to be determined, both are going to take the camp really seriously and conditioning levels are going to be high, so I think it’s going to be a five-round fight that goes to decision and I think Joanna is going to end up taking it this time.”
Who knows if a rematch would happen and who knows how it would turn out. One thing we do know is that Panasiuk’s new ability to watch every card beginning to end will surely ease the pain of Poland-less main events if it doesn’t.
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