In just one year's time, Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren went from "The Baddest Man on the Planet" to "The Rodney Dangerfield of MMA."
He gets no respect.
Granted, I'm sure he'd love to forget his 2011 campaign. His title defense was delayed due to injury and he never even competed at 145 pounds. Instead he took a non-title bout at a 137 pound catchweight against Marcos Galvao in which he won an extremely controversial decision in which a large majority of fans and media thought he lost.
He followed that up by dropping down to bantamweight to compete in the Bellator season five 135 pound tournament, but he was swiftly dropped from the field after a vicious first round knockout at the hands of former freestyle wrestling Olympic medalist Alexis Vila.
Now, heading into his first battle to defend his belt against Pat Curran tonight (March 9, 2012) at Bellator 60 in Hammond, Indiana, Warren enters the fight as a 3-1 underdog.
The University of Michigan alumni participated in an open workout or the media this past Wednesday and had plenty to say about all the doubters out there.
Check it out:
While most fighters tend to hold back during their open workouts, Warren went forward with a full head of steam for the entire duration of his shadow boxing, mitt work and in the exhibition of his grappling prowess. He made sure to tell the media mid workout that they should take a look at his improved head movement which he said "was something he could have used in his last fight," which drew some laughs.
He also worked with top UFC bantamweight Scott Jorgensen (pictured below) during his grappling session and referenced multiple times towards his upcoming opponent Pat Curran "That mother fucker's got nothing on me!"
I don't know whether he was extremely confident again or just trying to convince himself he can win. That's something we'll have to wait and see tonight.
Joe Warren quotes from media scrum:
- On being a 3-1 underdog -- "You guys have to understand that I started in as deep of waters as there is. I've been the underdog since the first time I put gloves on. I love my fans but I don't give a crap about who thinks who is gonna win or not. This isn't a team sport. I'm the one that has to deal with the person fighting in front of me.
- On fighting in Pat Curran's backyard -- "I've won not just in MMA but also for the US and let me tell you, the US Greco Roman wrestler is never the guy that's the favorite, not overseas. I'm used to going into hostile countries and competing against the number one guy in their country instead of the number one guy in Chicago."
- On if he still plans on trying out for the Olympics -- "Yes. After I win this fight, I've got Olympic team trials in Iowa City on April 20th. We'll see how that goes.
- On getting his confidence back after a tough knockout loss -- "It's an ego issue. You can bruise my ego but all bruises are healed now. Ego is through the roof again, confidence level is through the roof again. Gotta keep my attitude and positive mindset. I don't even remember the last fight. I hate to say it... I know I was emotional. I'm a real emotional person. If you put everything you have into one basket and it doesn't work, it's emotional to me. When I lose, it takes a piece of my heart away. I'm not a competitor that deals with loss well."
- On if he plans to try bantamweight again -- "I will definitely be there again. I'm 145 right now. I fight at this weight because I'm a champion here and I love Bellator. When I came into Bellator, it was their second season and we did not have bantamweight yet... I believe in my future and that I'll be a bantamweight."
- On the size disadvantage against Curarn -- "I'm not focused on his size. I'm focused on, I'm in great condition. I'm ready to rock in roll. My weight's fine. He's cutting a bunch of weight. He's hurting right now. We'll see what he can do, young kid like that. I'm a man. He's a boy."
- On avenging his two losses -- "I would like to get both of them back. I've talked to Bjorn a lot about that. We still have Alexis [Vila] in the league and we're hoping that they pull Bibiano [Fernandez] here so I can smash him."
So there you have it, Maniacs.
Do you agree that Warren deserves his underdog status for this fight? Will his world class Greco Roman skills be enough to overcome a serious size (20 pounds) and age (11 years) disparity?