Bellator 101's Joe Warren: 'If I was in UFC, I'd probably have a title shot every single time'

Joe Warren - Bellator

Prior to his first fight in over 10 months under the Bellator banner, the former featherweight champion had a lot to say regarding Fight Master, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and his phantom injury, one that forced his fight against Nick Kirk to be rescheduled for today at the Moda Center, in Portland, Oregon. Have a look!

Bellator MMA rolls into the Moda Center, in Portland, Oregon. later today (Sept. 27, 2013) with a familiar face in tow: Former featherweight champion and resident Fight Master coach Joe Warren.

Warren will be squaring off against Nick Kirk in a bantamweight tournament semifinal at Bellator 101.

Some mixed martial arts (MMA) fans earlier this month were left speculating whether Warren would ever fight again, following a late scratch from his originally scheduled bout against Kirk at Bellator 98. Reports said he had been knocked out in training, but the real reason the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulations in Connecticut held him out of battle was due to fears of Warren having previously suffered a "stroke."

Here's how it went down:

"Seriously, I’m like 20 minutes from the airport with my coach. I'm like, 'Well, see you guys when we get there,' you know? I thought they were messing with me. Then the commission says, 'We need you to see a neurosurgeon in Denver,' and I said what are you talking about? They said, 'We're not clearing you without getting this set up,' so I turn around and went to this neurosurgeon. I saw him and he was reading my MRI and he tells me that he thinks I had a stroke."

A stroke is usually not something that goes unnoticed for so long, so I asked Warren about whether this catastrophic doctor visit is something he has battled with throughout his combat sports career.

"Never, never -- this is exactly what they said -- there is an 'image abnormality.' The doctors read it wrong. I was reading so much stuff in the last week like I got knocked out, stuff like that. Nothing ever happened. This camp has been focused for the last 16 weeks on me not taking any damage. I mean I'm 37, lets be realistic, I have two young babies and they are way more important than this cage for me. Bellator isn't putting the 'baddest man on the planet' in the cage and watching him die. Bellator and the commission took the time, wanted to make sure they covered their ass."

If anyone is capable of dealing with such adversity leading up to a fight, it's Warren, who has seen a surge in attention ever since he anchored a who's-who coaching panel during the inaugural season of Bellator's new reality series.

I asked him about how he feels now that the show has aired on Spike TV and what he would of changed. Although consummate show favorite, Joe Riggs hasn't even won yet.

"I believe the show was all about fighting, there was a lot of stuff they left out of the show. You know what I'm saying? There was a lot of drama and lot of time we spent with all the guys that they didn't air.

Bellator's main concern is fighting, why do you think the Bellator tournament is the toughest tournament in the world?

You watch the shows every week and these guys are killing each other. They wanted to make sure it was all about fighting not about drinking in the house or drama. But, as a coach finding out what went on behind the scenes, how much drama it was, as a fan I was looking for a little bit more {drama].

I have my fingers crossed that we get to do another season here and maybe change it up a little bit, but they haven't told us."

He also feels that even though Team Rhino Sport was the first team fully eliminated from the show, the amount of work he puts in with his team and the lack of raw talent he had this season, that things could be different the next time around.

"I was behind the eight ball. I think if I have an athlete with some ability and that isn't so green, I'd win Fight Master."

Would different coaches change his fortune when it came to fighters choosing his camp? You can't get much bigger than Greg Jackson and Randy Couture.

"Tito, Rampage (Quinton Jackson), whatever."

Warren has no qualms with making it known where his allegiance lies and what his long-term goals are for the remainder of his tenure.

They all start with a victory Friday.

"Bellator is where the cool kids fight, it's the cool place now. It's the funnest place to fight. It's like where the cool kids go to drink, that's the way we do it. There is a lot of growth and opportunity for us. Every time Viacom, Bjorn Rebney, offer me something, it's big.

My waist is bare and I need another belt, and it needs to be at 135 [pounds]. My future here is to win this tournament, so first goal is to kick the shit out of Nick Kirk on Friday. I'm a pay-per-view (PPV) man, I gotta win a fight baby, if you could just talk yourself into a championship, I would.

If I were in UFC I'd probably have a title shot every single time. I can talk my way into things and you can't talk your way into anything in Bellator.

This was the perfect segue into asking Warren about the rematch of Muhammed Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton, and why if the company places so much emphasis on the tournament, these two weren't fighting through brackets to get at one another.

"Let's bottom line it, we are trying to put a good card together, everyone likes watching King Mo, that was a crazy knockout. Everyone would like to see that rematch."

"The baddest man on the planet" is a self-proclaimed "Bellator guy," and sees himself being a part of the company's first PPV card on Nov. 2 at the Long Beach Arena, in Long Beach, CA. I reached out to Bellator's Director of Communications, Anthony Mazzuca, about the possibility of Warren being included on the card.

"Nothing is set in stone."

So, which Joe Warren will enter the cage tonight? Will it be the Warren we saw run through five opponents in 2010? Or the Warren who suffered consecutive knockout losses at the hands of Alexis Villa and Pat Curran?

Time will tell.

MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire Bellator 101 card this evening, starting with the "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET online, and then main card action, which is slated to begin at 9 p.m. ET on Spike.

In the meantime, be sure to check out our complete Bellator 101 event archive for the latest news and notes right here.

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