Bellator 181 “Girtz vs. Campos 3” comes to WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. on July 14, 2017. Brandon Girtz and Derek Campos will headline for their third and perhaps final time to settle a rivalry that stretches all the way back to 2013.
Also featured on the main card for Spike TV that night is the self-declared “Baddest Man on the Planet” Joe Warren (14-6), the two time Bellator champion at Featherweight and Bantamweight. He’s a popular man in Thackerville, but his last fight with Eduardo Dantas there didn’t go so well.
It’s hard to keep a good “bad man” down though, and Warren’s taking that loss in stride by taking on Steve Garcia (7-1), a rising prospect in Bellator’s Bantamweight division who picked up a unanimous decision against Ronnie Lawrence in his last fight.
For Warren things can go one of two ways — he can get back on track with another signature win or he can be the old veteran (40) who bows to the younger Garcia (25). In today’s interview with MMA Mania we hear that he has no intention of bowing down to Garcia or Dantas.
“Yeah you know Dantas, that was a tough loss. That was my first loss that I lost a decision to (an opponent) but you know he caught me sleeping. He was training for me for, what, two or three years and I was fighting non-stop. He beat me with some footwork. Don’t worry — I’ve reinvented myself. We went back to the drawing board, and this old man’s got some footwork now, so people are in for some big trouble.”
Warren’s correct that Dantas was his only decision loss to date in MMA. He’s also only lost two fights in a row once in his entire career and doesn’t plan for Garcia to catch him sleeping too.
“I don’t even know his freaking name man. He’s a body in front of me to run through you know? I think he’s a young kid, up-and-coming, (and) I’m kind of like Bellator’s gatekeeper. If you want to make a name at Bantamweight in Bellator, you’ve gotta come through me. I’m really open and welcome to that. If you want to get your ass beat then come on in that cage with me and I’ll be happy to do it for ya.”
A certain amount of bluster and bravado has always been Warren’s style, but one simply can’t overlook the fact that Garcia is a HUGE bantamweight fighter who towers above many foes.
“Yeah I noticed that! My coach Marc Montoya he does the worrying and the watching and the tapes and that kind of stuff. I’ve been noticing that all of my sparring partners (now) are six feet tall and I’m like ‘What the hell’s going on here?’ And he’s like ‘He’s six feet tall! He’s skinny and six feet tall!’ I’m like ‘Alright, no problem!’ You know I don’t ask questions, I just run through practice. So it looks like he’s a tall up-and-coming kid. That’s very normal (to) me. At least he doesn’t have world titles behind him like everyone else (I fight) does you know?”
Warren has definitely gotten used to elite competition. Over 50% of his fights since 2014 have been for a world title, and 75% of those (three of four) went a full five rounds.
“This is strange for me not being a main event or co-main event, I don’t even know how that is. It doesn’t bother me. If Scott (Coker)’s gonna pay me to fight in the street, I’ll fight in the street, know what I mean? I just have always been a Bellator family man.”
“I’ve been part of the Bellator family since the beginning of Bellator you know? It’s like ‘My step dad was getting the job done, but my new dad is kicking ass!’ Coker has brought a lot of credibility to the Bellator banner and the brand, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and more fun and more fun. As a spectator watching it, it has been a lot of fun to watch Bellator grow and know I’ve been part of that growth. To get an opportunity to get back in that Bellator cage and perform and impress myself I’m really excited, you know anxious and violent.”
And definitely not silent. “The Baddest Man on the Planet” talks as good a game as any fighter in mixed martial arts, but he knows that like Chael Sonnen did with Wanderlei Silva eventually you have to stop talking and back it up — even if it’s always after the biggest show of the year.
“I’m always fighting like two weeks after the big fight, you know that’s what happens. I’m honored that they give me the opportunity to put me on a card and still hold the viewership. That’s nice to know. I would love to fight in one of those big Bellator (cards). I’ve fought in the littlest ones, I’d like to fight in the biggest one. That being said I think I might have to get a few of these wins, get an opportunity to maybe beat the hell out of Dantas again in a rubber match, and that might be when you see us on that big card.”
If Joe Warren wants a trilogy fight like the main event of the Thackerville card he’s on, it all starts with taking out Steve Garcia and proving he’s still the man he says he is.
“I’m gonna plan on putting this crazy violence into this guy’s head. It’s really hard to train for a guy like me. You can’t really deal with the pressure or the violence or the power coming from me. He’s nothing to me, just a body in front of me. I plan on putting a hole through this man and putting my hand up in that Bellator cage.”
He may have to reach a little further to dig that hole but that’s why they fight the fights and why you’ll tune in to see if Warren can reach that goal.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Girtz vs. Campos 3” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
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