When you think of Bellator Bantamweights, a couple of names come to mind. Guys like Eduardo Dantas, Darion Caldwell, Marcos Galvao. Perhaps the biggest name at Bantamweight in all of Bellator is the only two-division champion in Joe Warren.
In his 18 fight career, he has wins over guys like Chase Beebe, Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto, Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire, Galvao, and Dantas. After losing his Bantamweight belt to Galvao at Bellator 135, Warren has a victory over L.C. Davis and a loss to budding contender Darion Caldwell. He fights Sirwan Kakai in the co-main event of Bellator 161 this Friday night. Warren perked up for three rounds with me as we talked about his fight with Sirwan Kikai at Bellator 161, possible retirement, University of Michigan football and CM Punk.
Vinny Craig: Your last fight with Darion Caldwell didn’t go as planned. What can you take from your last fight against the younger guy to bring into this fight?
Joe Warren: That fight was a strange fight for me. I hurt myself, dislocated my knee and tore my MCL trying for my first takedown. I have never been hurt in the cage to the point where I couldn’t continue. When things go bad in the cage, they go really bad. I tried to get up, got body slammed and choked out. It’s shitty, he’s a young tough fighter. It was my pleasure to have a fight with him. What can I take from that fight? Try and not get hurt this time.
VC: You fight Sirwan Kikai here coming up. How do you handle his style of fighting against yours?
JW: I believe I am the best wrestler in the game. I win by controlling positions and taking people down. That’s what I am going to do again, hopefully, use my hands a little bit more this time. You never know until you get out there. I usually win with my wrestling and I’ll probably win with that again and finish him on the ground. He’s a dangerous opponent and I don’t look past anybody. He’s on a two-fight skid, but he’s hungry and he gets an opportunity to fight me and people usually bring their best game. I’m just focused on bringing pressure forward and being the offensive fighter.
VC: If you can get past Kakai, where do you go next? Who do you want to fight?
JW: We try and take care of Kakai this Friday. Then I want to beat the shit out of Dantas again. I’m the only guy to have beaten him. We have a lot of history between us. The fans want to see that fight and we want to give it to them. I have to get this win, make some money and take care of my family. Then get an opportunity to beat up that Brazilian again.
VC: Say this Friday doesn’t go your way. You have fought some of the best 135ers and 145ers this game has to offer. Could you call it quits with a loss this Friday?
JW: I don’t even think about me not winning. I’m not 100% sure, first thing is first we get this win on Friday. I’m safer and more technical than I have ever been right now. I will continue to fight for as long I want to. It’s a very unpredictable thing inside that cage, you just never know what’s going to happen. That being said, if that [I lose] does happen, I would think about leaving. I just don’t see that happening.
VC: When you do call it quits, what’s next for you?
JW: I have degrees from the University of Michigan and I’ve been running a recovery company. Those are definitely options, I’m just not sure where I’m going to go. I’m a great coach, one of the best Greco-Roman coaches in the world. I’ve been looking for things already, things outside of the cage. It’s hard to take care of your family when you lose once a year, which is kind of shitty. We’ll see what happens, before that, I have a fight with Sirwan Kikai on Friday I’m focused on. If that stuff comes to the table, we’ll deal with it then. I don’t look too far past what is right in front of me. I have a violent foreigner in front of me that wants a piece of me.
VC: You mentioned that you went to school at the University of Michigan. Are you a fan of the sports from your alma mater?
JW: I’m a football fan. I know Jim Harbaugh from when I was there, he would come in. I bleed maize and blue and red, white, and blue. I was at the university rec room for wrestling this summer. It would be an honor one day to be able to coach that team. You don’t get away from the big blue once you are a part of it.
VC: Do you train locally in Michigan?
JW: No, there’s not a lot of training in Michigan. When I get back, I have a hard time training anything but wrestling. I train in Colorado at Factory X and drive down to the Olympic training center for some. All my training is based out of Colorado. Faithful Athletics out of Santa Monica runs my strength and conditioning, but other than that I stay locally here in Colorado.
VC: You said you don’t want to talk about retirement, so let’s look ahead. Is there a fight that has evaded you in your career?
JW: You know how it is with Bellator, I always either have the belt or am fighting for a belt. Every fight is usually an extremely big fight for both guys that means a lot for our careers and for a title. I want to fight Dantas again for this Bellator belt. I’d like to beat up Bibiano Fernandes again one day with that being my first career loss. Besides that, I fight for a living and it’s a good job for me. I never really wanted to fight anyone, but they just keep coming in front of me. It’s just a body and keep going and pushing forward.
VC: What is your advice to young people who want to get into this sport?
JW: MMA is the toughest, most unpredictable fight out there. Getting in that cage is so unpredictable and you never know what’s going to happen. It’s like wrestling, 9/10 times the better wrestler is going to win the match. That’s not the case in MMA, you never know. It’s the flip of a coin when inside that cage. Usually, I verbally assault a guy to the point he wants to beat me up anyway, so know I’m in the cage with a mad opponent or someone that has something to prove. I’ve been the bigger name and they need the victory over me. I’ve got my hands full inside that cage. I’d say to keep strong and work on the mental side of the game because technique goes out the window sometimes.
VC: Prediction for your fight?
JW: That the baddest man leaves with his hand up and gets a paycheck for his family. I plan on being the offensive fighter and bringing a lot of pressure forward. My wrestling, control, and ground and pound will win me this fight.
For the latest MMA news, live event coverage and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.
Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes
Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.
Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).
In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.
Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”
In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.
This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.
Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video
Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.
The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.
Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)
Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.
RN: 265 lb.
MM: 255 lb.
Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.
PF: 155 lb.
DC: 154 lb.
Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.
HH: 126.25 lb*
AJ: 125 lb.
Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.
LM: 203.75 lb.
VN: 205 lb.
Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.
TW: 145 lb.
JS: 142.25 lb.
Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)
Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.
RS: 155.5 lb.
RL: 156 lb.
Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout.
MK: 135.75 lb.
GT: 135 lb.
Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.
RC: 145 lb.
TE: 146 lb.
Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.
JT: 205.5 lb.
WH: 203 lb.
Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.
MS: 156 lb.
DH: 155.25 lb.
Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.
PN: 163.5 lb.
KX 164.5 lb.
Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.
TH: 154 lb.
PC: 155.5 lb.
*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.
Exclusive: Saad Awad looking for the quick knockout at Bellator 193
Saad Awad makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on JJ Ambrose.
The veteran Awad has been with Bellator since 2013, amassing a 9-5 record in the process, with five of those wins coming via knockout. Impressive wins against Will Brooks and Evangelista Santos feature on his 21-9 record.
The heavy-handed striker gets to fight in his backyard of California for the first time in over a year. A native of San Bernardino, Awad is fighting only forty-five minutes from his home, in the co-main event no less.
“It’s great,” Awad told MMA Latest about co-main eventing in California. “I’m about forty-five minutes from my house, the arena sold out the week they released the tickets. So I know a lot of people are going to be here and the energy’s going to be really good, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to help me mentally.”
Meeting Awad in the co-main is a fellow California native himself, JJ Ambrose. Ambrose has been fighting since 2005 and has amassed 26 wins in his 13-year career.
“He’s a veteran, he kind of flew under the radar,” Awad said. “He’s fought all over the place. I think he brings a lot of experience, a good solid stand-up, and ground game, and wrestling.”
Although Awad highlighted Ambrose’s quality, make no mistake, the “Assassin” believes he holds all the advantages.
“I match-up with him great, to be honest, I think my striking is a little bit better, I think I hit a lot harder and my jiu-jitsu’s going to be a bit better, and I’m going to be able to outwrestle him,” Awad explained. “So I think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him.”
Awad is coming off of a quick KO, one minute, seven seconds, over Zach Freeman. The quick win didn’t come as a surprise to Awad as he always expects to finish his opponents quickly.
“I mean, not be cocky, but I expect to get a quick KO against everybody,” Awad said. “When I don’t get a quick KO then I’m like ‘okay something’s wrong’ so then I have to change my gameplan up. So nothing against Zach Freeman, I mean, every fight I go in there looking for the quick knockout.”
Currently, on a solid two-fight winning streak, Awad highlights what exactly the key’s been for him to get this far.
“Honestly, I’ve just been training a lot,” Awad said. “I’ve just been training and focusing a lot on little details that I knew were my flaws, and every fight I’ll keep something new. If I see something go wrong in one of my fights, I’ll tweak that out and train it and get a little bit better and then just try and keep improving.”
With a win taking Awad to three victories in a row, it would make sense to offer the veteran a big fight. But Awad doesn’t have a name in mind next, although he doesn’t believe it would matter anyway.
“Whoever they give me,” Awad said. “I can ask for fights but they won’t give them to me. “My only thing is trying to get a title fight, I’m not even going to ask for that anymore. I’m going to ask them to keep me busy. I just want to stay busy. I get paid the same no matter who I fight so as long as they keep me busy, that’s what I’m happy for.”
As for 2018, Awad’s goals remain simple.
“Keep winning,” Awad said. “Stay busy and keep winning.”
If things go the way Awad expects, fans are in for a treat. As for Ambrose? Not so much.
“I’m going to go in there and leave with a knockout, a violent knockout,” Awad said. “Get my hand raised, talk some shit, and leave.”
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