Joe Warren has fought only once in the last 18 months. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
If success in mixed martial arts depended solely on confidence, Joe Warren’s exploits would be unrivaled.
The self-professed “Baddest Man on the Planet” will lock horns with Nick Kirk in the Bellator MMA Season 9 bantamweight tournament semifinals at Bellator 101 on Friday at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. The event, which airs on Spike TV, will also feature the opening round in the promotion’s latest eight-man lightweight draw.
Warren last appeared at Bellator 80 in November, when he cruised to a unanimous decision over the outmatched Owen Evinger at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. The performance came on the heels of back-to-back horrific knockout losses to Alexis Vila and Pat Curran that had some calling for Warren to retire. A decorated amateur wrestler, the 36-year-old transitioned to MMA in 2009. His resume includes wins over former World Extreme Cagefighting titleholder Chase Beebe, onetime K-1 Hero’s grand prix winner Norifumi Yamamoto, Team Nogueira’s Patricio Freire and two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Marcos Galvao. Warren has compiled a 6-2 mark in Bellator.
The twice-beaten Kirk last fought at an Impact Fighting Championship event in April, when he submitted Ben Miller with a second-round triangle choke at the Bismarck Civic Center in Bismarck, N.D. Nicknamed “The Big Hurt,” the 30-year-old has yet to taste victory inside the Bellator cage, having dropped decisions to David Harris and Tony Zelinski. Kirk trains under Greg Nelson at The Academy -- the same respected Minnesota camp that oversaw the careers of former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Sean Sherk and onetime UFC heavyweight boss Brock Lesnar.
With the Warren-Kirk semifinal on the marquee, here are 10 facts surrounding Bellator 101:
FACT 1: Warren was an NCAA All-American at the University of Michigan and went on to win three national titles and a world championship in Greco-Roman wrestling.
FACT 2: Kirk has gone the distance eight times in 12 appearances.
FACT 3: Oregon will be the 20th state in which Rich Clementi has fought during his 68-bout professional career, along with Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Massachusetts, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Iowa, Mississippi, Indiana and Virginia. He has also competed in four foreign countries (Canada, Japan, Sweden and Northern Ireland) and one United States territory (Guam).
FACT 4: John Alessio fought Pat Miletich for the UFC welterweight crown in June 2000 and challenged Carlos Condit for his WEC 170-pound title seven years later, losing both by second-round submission.
FACT 5: Russian lightweight prospect Alexander Sarnavskiy has finished 16 opponents inside one round, five of them in less than a minute.
FACT 6: Marcus Davis owns a 17-2-1 record as a professional boxer.
FACT 7: American Top Team’s Nathan Coy, who owns victories over current UFC welterweights Rick Story and Mike Pierce, has held titles inside the SportFight and Maximum Fighting Championship promotions.
FACT 8: Jeremiah Riggs and Martin Stapleton appeared on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Riggs on Season 7 and Stapleton as part of the United Kingdom contingent on Season 9.
FACT 9: Polish prodigy Marcin Held debuted as a 16-year-old in September 2008 and won his first eight fights.
FACT 10: Ryan Healy is the twin brother of UFC lightweight contender Pat Healy. They have combined for 52 wins between them.