In his first bout since coaching on ‘Fight Master,’ Joe Warren hopes to make a statement Saturday against Nick Kirk at Bellator 98.
The former Bellator featherweight champion joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show ahead of the matchup to discuss his opponent, another title run and more.
On where he’s at in his career: “I think I’m a battle-tested veteran right now with 10, 11 fights. I was thrown into fighting in the deep end. I was already a world champ in, I believe, the toughest sport in the world and I didn’t think that anyone in that weight class could hold a candle to me. … Those [previous] fights have all been camps full of just teaching me how to fight, trying to get my muscle memory there, my hands, positions my body wasn’t used to doing. I believe that this is the first camp that I’ve had that I’ve really been able to focus on the camp and getting in shape instead of the technique. I believe I’m a mixed martial artist now, but it’s taken some years. This sport is a lot tougher than people give it credit for.”
On fighting tough opponents right off the bat: “With my age, we didn’t want to mess around. I wasn’t going to fight for no money or in a small show. For my first fight they gave me 20, 25 grand to fly over [to Japan] and fight. So I went over there and fought and continued to fight. They said that was the quickest way for me to make a name for myself, and it was. I’m happy that by the time I got back from Japan, Bjorn [Rebney] was already signing me to Bellator.”
On his mindset when he began: “Those first few fights were, ‘Let me out of the cage. What the hell am I doing? I have a college degree and a world championship. Get me out of this ring.’ I didn’t even bring coaches. I brought college teammates of mine because they knew me. It was such a short period of time for me training.”
On the 135-pound division: “Now I’m comfortable [at] 135. This is where I won my world championship in wrestling. I believe this is the best weight I am, and let’s be realistic: I’m not a young man. I’m already looking at different stuff to do here. I’m making another push at it because I believe I’m the safest and strongest I’ve ever been and I believe I would like to have a bantamweight belt on my waist here soon. I think Bellator needs it and I think I need it, so we’re going to make one more push at this thing and see how it goes.”
On what he knows about his opponent: “I know he’s 135 pounds and is getting his ass whooped. I don’t know s--t about him. I know that he thinks he’s a wrestler, and that’s it. I haven’t really worried about it. I’m just trying to worry about performing to my ability this time and pressing myself again and putting a hole through this body in front of me.”
On his strategy against Kirk: “I don’t see many advantages to his game at all. I believe he thinks that he’s technically a little sounder in all positions, but I’m a whole different person when you get your hands on me. I have a lot of power and aggression. I’m going to bring a lot of violence to the cage and try to finish this fight.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:01:47).