Can Joe Warren earn another Bellator title in Season 5? | Photo: Dave Mandel
Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren (www.twitter.com/JoeWarrenMMA) will blog his thoughts and experiences for Sherdog.com as he takes part in Bellator Fighting Championships’ fifth-season bantamweight tournament, which kicks off with Bellator 51 this Saturday, Sept. 10, on MTV2 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
I have my own room during fight month. I wake up in the basement, look at the treadmill next to my head and feel a violent focus on the job at hand: winning another Bellator belt. My first task is crushing a Cuban named Vila.
I get out of bed and my focus changes completely. My one-year-old baby girl, Maddox Reese -- named after my best friend in college, Jeff Reese, who died in the sauna next to me -- grins and yells “Daddy!” and clings to my neck. My three-year-old boy Xandr Achilles, named after my wife’s favorite warrior, jumps on me and attempts his version of an armbar.
My beautiful wife, Christy Cech, prepares breakfast: French toast, oatmeal, and cappuccino while ‘‘Go Diego’’ plays in the background. I have these two hours to spend with the family before hitting the road to Denver. Highway 25 is a challenge in itself.
When I leave, she smiles, but I see the look in her eye. She will have a tough week alone with our two strong-willed toddlers -- can’t imagine where they get that from -- but she always does what she needs to.
I will miss them. These mornings with my babies puts the job in perspective -- they motivate my violent intensity; daddy has to get the job done.
While driving to the Rino Sports Galleri, I visualize lifting that belt over my head, I visualize my strikes landing perfectly, my jiu-jitsu flawless, and being able to taking care of my family for another year. Ten minutes out, music playing, positive attitude, windows down, I start to loosen my hands and my shoulders. I focus on staying positive. The focus is intensity.
I arrive at the Rino, suit up in my Clinch Gear -- ready for battle. First is striking with Mark Montoya. After all, behind every champ is a great coach. I have competed at the highest levels and have had the top-tier coaches and have succeeded at every level. Mark and I have the kind of chemistry I had with my former Greco coaches, Momir Petkovich and Steve Fraser. I miss those guys; they gave me the mental training I needed in addition to the technique. It’s the kind of mental skill and strength you must have to win at that level.
Mark is the first coach I have had in the MMA who has been able to rival that kind of championship training. Our attention today is on improving all-around striking skills, one-and-a-half hours of building muscle memory with my striking.
Leaving practice, I’m confident and a better fighter. It’s a shower, then lunch with my brother, Michael, who just moved back from Michigan and into the gym to help me with my training and running at Rino.
This afternoon, I have a wrestling session with Steven Abas. Steven, an American Olympic silver medalist, has defeated Vila several times. That, and our long time friendship, makes him an ideal training partner. The focus is reaction time, leg defense and strategy.
After, I rest and have a session with ma therapist Brian and dinner at PF Chang’s with my entourage from the Rino: Swedish UFC veteran Per Eklund, my brother Michael, and my lawyer, partner, and business manager, Ryan Tobin. After that, it’s right back to the Rino to instruct submission wrestling practice for the local pros.
My focus here is to teach MMA wrestling which is completely different from wrestling. I am teaching the men to bring the opponent from their feet to their backs, then to submission. I’m teaching them not to penetrate and not to hit our knees, but to explode through our opponents in the cage.
Now, it’s five or six rounds with Denver’s elite 135- and 145-pound crew. Invitations are open to all those with a mouthguard and good health insurance. After sparring, I push the wall back even farther, as I head off to the sauna.
Sauna’s steamin’, flip flops are on. It’s a battle in the sauna for me: jumping, punching, continuous motion for 15 minutes. This is where champions are made: after a hard practice, having to push through the grind. I love the loud music, the sounds of guys who know they just finished giving every last thing they’ve got.
From here, it’s normally a shower, a check of the schedule for the next day’s private lessons and then my drive home to my babies. Today, however, I need to stay at the gym to make sure I get sleep and keep my violent thoughts away from the family. I rent a movie on the computer and get a good 10 hours of sleep -- can’t do that at home.
Daddy’s job is to win, so I’m grateful to Mommy, who lets me do what I need to do to get there, my partner Ryan for being the backbone of the Rino, Clinch Gear for keeping me suited up for war, all of the training partners who put themselves at risk on a daily basis to help me continuously improve and all those local Denver sponsors who keep me -- and us -- going.