Bellator 151: "Warren vs. Caldwell" comes to WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., tomorrow night (Fri., March 4, 2016). The Spike TV-televised main event features former Bantamweight champion Joe Warren (13-4) against "The Wolf" Darrion Caldwell (8-0).
A two time champion at both Featherweight and Bantamweight, Warren -- the self-proclaimed "Baddest Man on the Planet" -- is attempting to re-assert himself in the title picture following his verbal submission to Marcos Galvao last year.
The first stop on his redemption tour was the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas, where Warren out-wrestled L.C. Davis for three straight rounds en route to a unanimous decision. A second straight win against could put Warren in the title picture again, but Caldwell boasts wrestling credentials equal to Warren's. He was a national champion in the 2008-2009 season with a 38-1 record, winning the Dan Hodge Trophy for most outstanding wrestler of the year.
Warren recently spoke with MMAmania.com about facing one of the most dangerous opponents of his career and his plans to get the Bantamweight title back around his waist. For Warren, tomorrow night can't come soon enough.
"We're done! We're ready to rock and roll man! Now it's a waiting game y'know? The preparation is done and now it's time to go beat someone's ass."
Beating Caldwell decisively will be easier said than done, though, especially since no one has done it yet. That's exactly the kind of challenge Warren loves.
"It is what it is. It's just a man in front of me for me to put a hole in. I've been saying this back and forth now -- I'm like Bellator's Bantamweight gatekeeper. If you want to win anything in Bellator at Bantamweight you gotta come through 'The Baddest Man' -- and now it's his turn."
Warren and Caldwell have a common opponent in Rafael Silva who they both hold wins over, so I put it to Warren that Silva may in fact be the gatekeeper of the division as opposed to him.
"I've had three Bellator belts on my waist. I guess you have to win that title to say you can be a gatekeeper right? Rafael Silva I take nothing from him. I mean (Eduardo) Dantas backed out of that fight five days before I ended up having to fight him. He was hands down a tougher opponent than what I thought I'd have."
Warren also stated that Caldwell's win over Silva, combined with his collegiate record of success, makes him an opponent most Bantamweights would be afraid to face.
"Oh he's way more dangerous than what people give him credit for. I mean Division I national champ, that's the toughest thing you can do, and for him to do that it's huge. I'm not looking past this man one bit. He is the young stud, undefeated stud coming up, and I'm a guy that's been there."
And since Warren mentioned Caldwell being a "young stud" I wanted to know how Warren plans to battle a wrestler whose skills rival his own while being 11 years his junior.
"Well, yeah, I didn't start fighting until 33 or so. I could be half of these guys dads when I'm fighting in there! (*laughing*) That being said I'm not injured, I'm not hurt, I'm the best person I've ever been physically and mentally, so you don't want to build my confidence. My head's big enough -- I can't even get it through the door right now. I'm unstoppable. I'm a freaking killing machine."
Even though last week's "Galvao vs. Dantas 2" fight was scrapped, Warren still has history with (and at least one victory over) both men.
"I mean it doesn't really matter to me who wins that belt, they're both pretty much the same person to me. They come from the same place, they're (like) little brothers, you know what I mean? So I beat both of them, they both don't like me, but -- I hear that Dantas is opening his mouth a lot about me this week when he should be worried about the task at hand period. I'm worried about this body Darrion Caldwell -- this killer coming after me. I'm not worried about those two Brazilians -- that's next. One step at a time."
Apparently it does matter, though, because Warren rated Galvao as the better fighter and "ever improving." His comments about Dantas were not nearly so kind.
"I think Dantas is a little bitch man! He runs from me, he talks a lot of crap and doesn't get the job done, so I'd like to fight him again personally y'know? But, we'll see what happens. I'm excited to watch that fight myself."
How does Warren feel when Bellator fans or keyboard warriors badmouth him on the Internet?
"I love the fans, but I just don't give a shit you understand? I don't read the Internet. I'm an old man you know. They call me anything (they) want. I've got two kids and a wife, I'm a family man. If I gave a shit what the public said or the press said then I probably wouldn't be fighting any more! I'm an unstoppable freaking killing machine -- that's how I feel. I feel I get better every single day. As long as that's happening you're going to see me beating people up in the Bellator cage."
One thing he might give a shit about though is how various commissions are experimenting with weight cuts.
"I know what's going on over in ONE FC, over in Singapore and those guys -- what they've been doing. I don't have a problem with the weight, that's why I dropped down to (1)35. I've won my world titles there. I'm a professional. I understand what it means to make weight."
At Bellator 150, the commission decided to allow fighters to weigh in the morning of before the public weigh in that afternoon. Warren is in favor of it.
"That's the smartest possible thing. One thing that happens in Japan and happens a lot around the world even in other sports is (that) you have a private weigh in and then you have a public weigh in. Then you're all filled up, happy, have better interviews. People are smiling on the scale instead of one guy almost dying on the scale you know? I think that's better for the promotion. You're going to get more out of your fighters, more publicity, just a better fighter to talk when he's hydrated. There's nothing wrong with it."
That's in Kansas, though, Warren is fighting in Oklahoma, and he wants you all to tune in for his battle with "The Wolf."
"I'd just like to thank Viacom, Spike and Bellator for putting 'The Baddest Man' back in there again. I'm honored to have the Bellator nation tuning in to watch me again. Make sure you tune in March 4th to watch 'The Baddest Man' put a hole through Darrion Caldwell."
Complete audio of our interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.