I recently had the opportunity to talk with US Olympic wrestler, DREAM MMA vet, and Bellator Fighting Championship acquisition, Joe Warren. Joe Warren burst onto the MMA scene in 2009 by becoming a semi finalit in the DREAM featherweight Grand prix tournament. Joe Warren had no professional MMA fights prior to his DREAM debut.
Q: What have you been doing since your last fight?
A: I have been really trying to get another fight. My main concern was trying to get back as fast as possible. I was ready for a two matches and a world championship belt in October (2009) and it didn’t go my way and I was done in like a minute. So I was ready to rock and roll right away. I was training some BJJ, and I tweaked my knee a little bit. Then I thought I was going to fight New Years Eve. They [DREAM] kept telling me I was going to, and then they didn’t let me. So it’s kind of been hectic for me. I really want to get back in there. I am brand new at it, and I need more time in there competing to learn the things you can’t learn unless you are actually competing. I got the Bellator contract signed and now I know exactly when I am fighting and I am excited about it. We are real open minded and focused on what is going to happen for us this year.
Q: Does the Bellator contract allow you to fight in Dream, and other organizations?
A: Yes, yes. They’ve [Bellator Fighting Championships] bent over backwards for me to get me to be part of this organization and I appreciate everything they have done. They are going to continue to let me wrestle. Maybe let me stop and train for the Olympics if that is something I want to do. They are going to let me finish out my contracts and stuff in DREAM.
Q: How many fights do you have left in DREAM?
A: I am going to have 3 more fights this year. Which I could have more, but we signed a three fight deal. I am hoping to fight 4 times for Bellator this year also.
Q: Now I remember watching you on Inside MMA; you were pretty gung ho about wrestling for the USA team in the Olympics. Has that changed at all now that you are training more MMA?
A: Yeah the mindset has changed. When I had these conversations before I was just jamming for as much technique and strategy as I could put in at once. It’s hard to learn that way. Since I signed these contracts I have been training MMA, and I see myself now as an MMA fighter and I am going to focus everything on I have on MMA instead of wrestling. If I am going to wrestle for the Olympics then I will take a little time off for the Olympics and train.
Q: Do you have one dedicated training camp or do you hop all over?
A: I train at Denver Colorado at the Rhino. It’s my brand new training club; it’s a wrestling club, jiu-jitsu and MMA. It’s in downtown Denver, and that is where I have been training. Other places I train are up at Urijah Faber’s gym in Sacramento, and at Boise Idaho with Scott Jorgenson. Those are my two training partners.
Q: How soon do you think you will be fighting in Bellator?
A: I’ll be fighting April 9th, in Miami at the hard Rock. I am real excited to be back in the cage, man. I am real happy to fight in front for the American Public.
Q: They have an opponent set for you?
A: They might, but they haven’t told me (laughs). I don’t really care who they put in front of me. I have been lifting real hard, gaining some size. Not really worrying about my weight as much as I usually do when I wrestle. I am really gaining a lot of strength, and things that I haven’t been able to do before because I have had to maintain a high level of cardio, to keep my weight kind of low.
Q: You touched on this before, and I have heard this from a couple of different fighters. You were supposed to fight NYE on DREAM but it didn’t work out. How does that work?
A: They pretty much told me I was fighting, so we were training real hard. You got to understand that in Japan, it’s pretty much entertainment. The fighting, the MMA over there is entertainment for them. So it is on prime time television and there are big numbers, lots of fans. I think what happens over there is the TV time is sold to like the major network over there and the network picks the fighters. I don’t know if DREAM has a lot of say in that. I think I was going to fight Kid [Kid Yamamoto] again, and I don’t think Kid wanted to fight me, which is probably a smart idea for him. And they pulled back and decided to do that DREAM Sengoku. That sucked. I was ready to rock and roll. Whatever. I got some training in. I got another two months of my training in. We will be able to probably fight once a month in April, May, and June.
Q: Do you feel that you are burning yourself out since you have been training for so long ?
A: No. The only thing I know is training. Since I was in third grade, most of the thoughts I have are about training. It’s a daily deal for me. It’s fun for me. I am learning so much, so much different technique. I respect the sport of MMA a lot more now then I used to. The first two fights were… I was just trying to get through the fight. But now I am trying to learn jiu-jitsu and learn striking . It’s a pleasure for me. There’s so much technique involved in MMA that poeple don’t realize. This 5 or 6 different sports. I have spent my whole life on one sport, and I have finally perfected it. But I have been doing it since I was in fourth grade. For someone to be a complete MMA fighter, it’s going to take some time. Its muscle memory, it’s time in there drilling, and its live competition. It’s hard to simulate live competition in MMA unless you are actually competing. It’s hard to just beat someone as hard as you can and someone not get hurt in practice.
Q: Your first pro fight was in Japan. Did you have any amateur fights in the states or did you jump right into pro?
A: Nope. I jumped right in. I was training for a few weeks before then, and then I was back in Colorado and I got in the DREAM tournament, and that was only a few weeks before the tournament. So we went to California and had a training camp there.
Q: So you have never had an MMA fight in the States. Are you excited for the Bellator debut?
A: Oh yeah man, real excited. I won several medals for this country. I bleed red white and blue baby! I am real excited to be back and compete. I got a lot of fans in the states and they are excited to take a few hour plane trip instead of a 10-20 hour trip to Japan.