It’s often said that one of the best bases a person can have coming into Mixed Martial Arts is wrestling and that couldn’t be more evident in the case of Bellator season two feather weight tournament finalist, Joe Warren.
Warren has used his dominating wrestling base to get him to the finals where he is set to face undefeated Brazilian submission specialist, Patricio Freire.
A long time US wrestling team member, Warren began his fighting career in March of 2009 and wasted no time in making some noise across the MMA community defeating former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe, and Japanese legend Kid Yamamoto in his first two career bouts.
In both bouts Warren was able to utilize his world-class wrestlers to dictate the pace and establish dominate positioning.
“I personally think it’s a natural transition for us (wrestlers) to do something like this,” Warren told Bleacher Report in a recent interview. “I wish I would have done some striking and Jujutsu when I was younger so I could be a little more prepared. I think the Greco Roman style of wrestling is an easier transition than a freestyle style wrestler.
“Freestyle wrestlers are on their toes with bent knees looking to attack the legs. A Greco wrestler is flat footed, he stands tall and pushes hard and looks to attack the body. I think in this sport attacking the body and being flat footed ready to attack is a little better than the guy on his toes who’s bent down trying to shoot for the legs.”
Rather than take an “easy” route by developing his skills in smaller promotions against similarly inexperienced talent Warren chose to jump in to the deep end of the pool, first competing in the DREAM featherweight Grand Prix and now in Bellator’s featherweight tournament.
“It’s been a good transition. I jumped right in there and competed against some top guys in the world and got some good wins. I’m just really positive and open minded to the future.”
While MMA is Warren’s focus right now the highly decorated US wrestler is still very focused and intent on going after that Olympic gold medal in 2012.
“My goal here is tomorrow night kicking the crap out of this Brazilian and moving on I have three more fights in Japan this year also. Then probably drop to 135, that’s the weight I’m comfortable at and competing there for another six months. Then take maybe eight to nine months off and concentrate on winning this 2012 Olympics.”
Luckily for Warren both Bellator and DREAM are willing to accommodate his aspirations.
“The organization Bellator and DREAM were the only organizations that stepped to the table and said if I did want to compete they would be happy to have me compete. They’re not going to penalize me. They’re going to let me train and they’re smart enough to understand that if I get into a ring, a cage or on a mat that I’m going to win.
“My wife is telling me I’ve got too much on my plate. I’ve got two babies so we have our hands full at home too. I’m 32 and I’m focused on what I can do here in the next five years.”
While winning Olympic gold is very large task to undertake, Warren has a challenge awaiting him in Louisville at Bellator XXIII that will be no walk in the park either. Patricio “Pitbull” Ferie is a young and hungry Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who is very dangerous on the ground, a place where Warren has shown vulnerability.
In his third career bout Warren took on a similarly dangerous grappler in the form of Bibiano Fernandes who caught Warren in a deep armbar early in their fight forcing the referee to stop the action. While there is no shame in losing to a grappler of Fernandes’ caliber it is a loss that haunts and driver Warren to improve.
“I’m disappointed in myself for that. I think I let myself and my family down. I know it was only my third fight ever and these guys are top level but there’s a part in me that hurts every morning when I wake up with that loss.
“That bugs me a little bit so that means I’ve been in the room a lot training. I’ve had two fights since then and a lot of training so I’m starting to see the BJJ technique come before it comes. I’m starting to recognize things when they are coming, so yeah my technique in BJJ is improved but let’s be realistic; He’s as good at BJJ as I am at wrestling so I’m hoping to keep my arms out of submissions and if I do that then I beat the crap out of this little kid.”