Joe Warren had a lot of success early in his MMA career, but lately he’s struggled. In his last two fights, he suffered knockout losses.
“Realistically, I’m not used to losing,” Warren told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “And when I lose, it’s not in front of a crapload of people. The last two losses have been eye-openers for me. The Alexis Villa fight, I’ll be completely honest: I got caught with a good punch. It caught me right on the chin and I went out. I truly didn’t believe that that could happen to me. That was just an eye-opener. Like welcome-to-MMA, this-happens-to-everybody-type deal.”
But after Villa, it happened again and Warren was knocked out by Pat Curran at Bellator 60. In fact, the Curran loss was even worse, with Warren absorbing so much punishment that there was an outcry over how late the fight was stopped.
“I did tell the referee before the fight -- I told him, ‘Listen, make sure I’m sleeping completely. Slap me one time to wake me up before you stop this fight if something happens.’ I said, ‘We want to make sure the right guy wins this fight.’ I did say that. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have a job to do,” Warren said. “I believe that the size and the weight was a factor in those late rounds and I got caught with a knee. I’m just too bullheaded to go to sleep. I was biting my tongue trying to recover and fight back, and that just didn’t happen. The kind of warrior I am, I tried to stay on my feet. I should have just fell down. I think for the last probably 15 seconds, I wasn’t awake anyway. Yeah, the ref probably should have stopped it, but it’s a title fight. The worst thing you want to see is a guy take the title back that shouldn’t have had the title. If you look at it both ways, this is his job, this is my job. If I would have been hurt, I think maybe I would have felt a little different about this, but I’m completely fine.”
That was in March. Eight months later, Warren will try to bounce back Friday against Owen Evinger at Bellator 80.
“I have never seen [him]. Nothing,” Warren said. “I don’t know anything about him. I asked [Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney] and them for tapes. They said that they were so busy [with their move to Spike TV] that they didn’t even have tapes on him. I looked at some stuff online. I know his sister. His sister Tonya Evinger used to wrestle with me and wrestled out of [Urijah] Faber’s gym. I know her, but I don’t really know him. I know he’s been submitted a few times. He’s got a few submissions. He’s just a bigger 135. I’m not really worried about Owen Evinger. I’m worried about Joe Warren, so I can stay focused on doing what my game plan is and keep moving. My pressure’s going to be too much for him to hold on to.”
The knockout losses put Warren on the shelf, but during his time away from the cage he’s had the chance to work on the technical aspects of his striking, particularly his defense. He’ll have a chance to showcase those skills Friday against Evinger.
“If I can’t get the job done in this fight, we’ll be doing something else after this because I’ve been training real hard and I’m real focused,” Warren said. “I believe my hands are where they need to be and I’m solid on the ground.”
Of course, there’s always the question of whether Warren will be gun-shy coming off his losses, but he believes his confidence is exactly where it needs to be.
“It bruised my ego,” Warren said. “The ego was bruised, [but] bruises heal and I’m all healed up.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:58:45).