Joe Warren file photo | Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
Joe Warren is not put off by a little bluster -- witness his “I am the baddest man on the planet” speech after winning Bellator’s 145-pound tournament -- and so his revelation to Fighters.com that he plans on contending for a medal in the 2012 Olympics should be taken with liberal salt. But can you really find fault with this kind of attitude? Isn’t this what we all want from fighters?
“I’ll fight February for Bellator, July for Bellator, then enter the 135-pound tournament for Bellator,” Warren told Brian Lopez-Benchimol. “Then I will stop fighting in December of next year and win the Olympics.” Big, deep breath. “I would like to win the gold [medal], win the 135-pound belt, defend my 145-pound belt, and then come win some other belts.”
Warren first got noticed in May of last year for beating notorious Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto in only his second-ever MMA bout, an upset that made his name overnight; like most Greco and freestyle wrestlers, his body could handle the accelerated learning curve. And while his odds were said to be good for the 2008 Games, a positive test for marijuana put him on the bench.
If he makes the ’12 Olympic team, he’ll be nearly 36 by the time he gets to London. Not encouraging.
If he can do it, it’ll be an interesting experiment in how professional MMA fighters measure against athletes devoted to single disciplines. Because Warren is a pro fighter, not a “pro wrestler” in any literal sense, he’ll be allowed to compete even though he’s hardly an amateur. The International Olympic Committee lets pro basketball athletes creep in, but that’s not the case in boxing -- in part because a huge skill disparity could wind up hurting someone. He would be the first athlete to compete after launching an MMA career. It usually works in reverse.
From a fan’s point of view, there’s little need to validate a fighter’s athleticism; we know it’s there. But for the people who have little conception of MMA, seeing Warren (who would inevitably be branded as a prizefighter on television coverage) excel would be an education. It’s a lot to ask from a guy, but it’s not like he’s lacking in ambition.