Roma “Panther” Pawelek

By | July 29, 2014 at 3:35 am | No comments | Fighter Interviews, WMMA-Youth | Tags: , , , , ,

Roma "Panther" Pawelek

Roma "Panther" Pawelek will be making her Tuff N Uff debut after accumulating a 5-0 amatuer MMA record. All of Roma's fights were finished in the first round, with one DQ exception. Roma plans to continue her MMA career undefeated and eventually make it to the Invicta stage when she makes the professional jump. Roma will be fighting for the women's flyweight title at Tuff N Uff on August 1st, 2014 and if you've seen her fights before, you know she is always ready to put on a show. We had the pleasure of working with Roma and learning more about her life and her career as a Mixed Martial Artist. She is definitely, a Fighter on the Rise!


Early Life:


Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up and what was life like growing up? (Family, school, friends)

I was born in Hinsdale, IL and raised in Highland Park.  My mother was a single mom from Poland so I was raised by her and my grandma.  My mom had to work in the city to support me so I spent a lot of my childhood playing outside.  I couldn't speak English well until I was in first grade.  My step-dad (who I refer to as my dad) came into my life at age 7.  I owe a lot of my success in sports and academics to him.  


Were you involved in any sports as a youth in or outside of school?

Yes, I started by playing football and pickup basketball with the boys at recess.  In high school I played basketball and was recruited to play at Carleton College.

What is your favorite child-hood memory?

In 8th grade, I joined a boy scout troop.  My favorite memory was taking our first canoe/camping trip down the Flambeau River in Wisconsin

Any interesting child-hood stories and/or fun facts?

When I was little, I pretty much lived off of Lucky Charms and potato pancakes.  I also had a bad reputation for not keeping my pets (birds, snakes, frogs, fish) alive.

Getting involved in MMA:


How did you get involved?

I was in college training for a bodybuilding show when I met Gordon Marino, a semi-pro boxer and philosophy professor who ran a boxing club at neighboring St. Olaf College.  He invited me to try it out.  I showed up and was instantly hooked.

What discipline did you begin with and care to share a bit about your early experiences learning the sport(s)?

I started with boxing and it taught me a lot about maintaining composure through difficult times and working through adversity.  Striking and grappling were both fascinating and frustrating when starting out.  But once I learned the basics in both it was easier to add on the new techniques.


At what point did you know you were ready to step in the cage for the first time?

I wasn't ready to step in the cage until I had moved to Missoula, MT and trained at the Dog Pound under Matt Powers.  There, I finally put together the striking and ground game.


When the cage locked behind you in your first fight, can you recall what what through your mind? How did your first fight turn out?

I remember in my first fight my shins were taped because I had slipped on a plyo box and cut them to the bone.  The stitches were freshly out, so I was very worried about kicks.  I also was not confident in my ground game.  I learned survival jiu jitsu escapes from a local tattoo artist on the concrete floor of his shop a week or two before fight night.  I intended to keep it standing but that didn't happen.  We went to the ground and in the end I was on mount and finished with a TKO.


What are 3 things you've learned while being involved in this sport?

1) Always be humble.  Hard work shows in the cage; spend more time training and less time on social media
2) Although MMA is technically an individual sport, you are only as good as your training partners and coaches.  Through MMA and jiu jitsu I have met some of my best friends.  It really becomes your second family.
3) Confidence and perseverance under pressure





What gym are you currently fighting out of?

Performance Martial Arts in Springfield, OR and Rose City FC in Portland, OR

What is your current record (ammy/pro) and at what weight?

5-0 ammy at 135.


Do you currently have a nickname in this sport? If so, what is it and why?

Yes, "Panther."  I used to train parkour with a group of guys and that was my nickname.  Our group transitioned into training a blend of parkour and fighting so when I started MMA the nickname carried over.

If you could improve one aspect of your game, what would it be and why?

I would improve my footwork and kicks in my standup game.  I think those are the biggest holes in my game.  I feel very confident on the ground and pretty confident in my hands.  Polishing up the kicks would make me a more complete MMA fighter.


What is your most memorable experience as an MMA fighter?

Every time I have a fight it seems to turn into an adventure.  I haven't had consistent corner people (yet).  Sometimes I've been ready to make the 9 hour drive to weigh ins alone.  Each fight everything has worked out great and I've shared amazing moments with the people there.  I'm expecting my title fight for Tuff n'Uff August 1st to be the most memorable to date!


Any interesting stories to share or learning experiences whilst fighting you would like to share?

Don't drink several energy drinks before a fight.  I did that before a boxing match once and my adrenaline when I stepped into the ring went through the roof.  Now, I don't even have a cup of coffee on fight day.


If you could offer one bit of advice to an aspiring fighter what would it be?

Listen to your body.  Know when it is time to rest, and be smart with who you choose as a training partner.  I lost a lot of training time from injuries caused by irresponsible training partners.  Luckily, I'm at a gym where I have plenty of amazing people who help me without hurting me.


Would you like to give a shout out to any sponsors individuals who have supported you?

I want to thank Tim Frieh (my chiropractor), Eikeem Barron (my personal trainer), Howard Fidler, Roger Mitterling, Steven Valentine, my training partners, my sponsors (Xionx, Grit Mouthguards, Revolver MMA, RFS Gear & Apparel, Primal Fitness, Team Sozo, Soap-a-licious),  my coaches (Tyrone Angolia, Ben Baxter, Ryan Cunningham, Robert Villardi), my boyfriend (Andrew), and my family.




What are your goals for the future in the sport?

I want to fight professionally for Invicta.


What are your thoughts on the current state of the sport and where it's headed?

WMMA is on the rise and will continue to be as the younger generations start training at younger ages.


If you could change one thing in the sport, what would it be?

Same day weigh ins so people fight closer to their true weight.


Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Living in Oregon with a small family and dogs…putting my law degree to use with a job I love and training martial arts, of course.  I hope to be fighting for Invicta or the UFC and have my black belt in jiu jitsu by then!



Fun Facts:


Favorite Food/Dish:



Favorite type of Music:

Hard rock or country


Favorite Movie:

Fight Club


Favorite TV Show:

Eastbound and Down


Favorite Quote:

"When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin, it works not because it settles the question for you but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for."

Advice from an old Carleton professor:

Life, he said, makes no sense lived forward. Do what you love, find things you're good at, however nonsensical, disconnected or imprudent they seem at the time. Don't bother trying to follow some map of what you "should be" doing. You'll come to various moments in life where you can pause at a vista, look back at your path, and say "oh now I understand why that part of my life happened in that way."


Do you have any children? Do you plan on having any/more?:

Not yet.  Want 2-3 some day.


Best day of your life:

My 27th birthday–I went to Costa Rica with my boyfriend to visit the area where I lived in for eight months.  I learned a lot about myself and changed my life when I lived in Costa Rica and had always wanted to go back with someone special.

Interesting/Unknown Fact about yourself:

I watch Hoarders to make myself feel better about my messy house.  I love making memes and comics.


Favorite Hobbies:

Fly fishing, parkour, camping, spending time in the woods

Who is your favorite super hero and why?

Wolverine because the claws are awesome and he can rapidly recover from any injury or ailment.




Facebook Page/Fan Page:  Roma Pawelek

Twitter: @romapawelek

Instagram: @panther327

Manager Contact (for sponsorship/fight inquiries): Steven Valentine (503-933-0438)

Email Address: roma.pawelek@gmail


Jason Przewoznik is the owner of was created to provide a haven for up and coming Mixed Martial Artists to share their stories and their careers with the fans; Supporting ALL fighters on the rise in a not-for-profit community.
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