Should he defeat Eduardo Dantas in the Bellator 166 main event on Friday night (online betting), Joe Warren will begin his third title reign in the promotion, a remarkable achievement at any age.
Warren, a former champion at both 145 and 135 pounds, recently turned 40 years old. It’s a time when most athletes are trending downward, not clearing more room in the trophy case. However, the self-proclaimed “Baddest Man on the Planet” hasn’t really stopped to consider the number of candles on his last birthday cake.
“I don’t notice how old I am until I talk with you guys. I believe I’m smarter, stronger and quicker than I’ve ever been right now,” Warren told Sherdog.com. “To get this title is going to be satisfying, not because of my age, but it just shows that I’m doing the right things and I have the right support cast around me. I can get older and just get tougher.
“Me being 40, it’s kinda crazy when you say it. That’s kinda nuts. I didn’t even start fighting until I was 32, 33. That was the first time I ever punched somebody,” he continued. “That being said, it’s not been a super long career for me but I’ve been at the older end of it. To win that belt at 40, I’m making history for Bellator anyway every time. This will just be another mark on the history books for me, but I’d be definitely honored to get that done at 40.”
While Warren has had his share of highs and lows in Bellator, he has more often than not managed to remain relevant. Still, it wasn’t all that long ago that Warren had considered calling it quits in hopes of transitioning to a career behind the microphone. But with a chance to reclaim the top spot in the bantamweight division against an opponent he has already beaten looming, Warren has put those thoughts on hold for now.
“I’m focused on [Bellator 167]. I haven’t really looked that far. I’d like to be outside of that cage making money instead of inside the cage. I’ve bled in that cage for Bellator and I’d like to be outside of the cage with the microphone maybe talking about Bellator, maybe being able to support Viacom and Bellator’s growth,” Warren said. “That being said, I’m at the top of the line again. I’m gonna be the world champ again. I’m gonna have that situation of holding that belt and continuing to win.
“Before I was taking job offers at other fields of income, but when you’re doing that your mind’s not focused on the task at hand. If your mind is not focused in that cage, you’re gonna get hurt really bad. I’ve tabled on those thoughts, and I’m focused on winning this title.”
Warren used his wrestling to grind out a five-round verdict against Dantas in their first meeting at Bellator 128. He relinquished the strap to Marcos Galvao via second-round submission in his next outing but has since won two of his last three bouts. While Dantas is a gifted talent, Warren believes he simply has the Brazilian’s number.
“We’ve got personal vendetta against each other. MMA is a sport of matchups, period,” Warren said. “You can have a guy you believe is the best but you throw a wrench in there, a matchup that’s not right for him, and he doesn’t win. I just believe that matchup is good for me. He’s a point fighter. He likes to win with jabs and kicks. You’re not gonna beat me with a jab or a kick. You’re gonna have to get ready to get dirty, get in those trenches, get bloody and try to pull a win out.That’s where I’m comfortable.
“This is an extremely comfortable situation for me, fighting for a belt again in Thackerville [Okla.]. It just seems like my home fighting territory. I’ve fought there so many times. I’ve won belts there, I’ve lost belts there. I’ve went through the ringer in that arena. I feel like this is a great matchup for me. This is the right place and the right time.”