Joe Warren didn’t think it could happen, but it did.
Against Alexis Vila last September, he got knocked out. The stunning finish came quickly, too, just 1:04 into the first round of their Bellator 51 bantamweight bout.
“It sucked,” Warren told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.” “I didn’t think a smaller fighter or even Alexis could do that to me, which it happened. S--t happens and I deal with it. But it’s not slowing me down or stopping me from continuing with striking. All that did was focus my technique more. I’m in the room every day making sure that I’m hitting pads hard, making sure that my hands are up and that I’m moving my head. So yeah, it just really pretty much stapled a point in that you can’t be chasing a guy and overextending your punches.”
Warren will have a chance to bounce back Friday when he defends his featherweight title against Pat Curran at Bellator 60.
“I think he’s a dangerous fighter,” Warren said of Curran, who earned the title shot by winning Bellator’s 2011 Summer Series featherweight tournament. “A young, dangerous fighter. What happens when you win those big fights is you gain a lot of confidence. You start believing in yourself and … that’s when [you’re] the most dangerous.”
Curran capped his run through the featherweight field by knocking out Marlon Sandro with a head kick. He has won seven of his last eight bouts, dropping only a unanimous decision to Eddie Alvarez in a lightweight title bout.
“He’s a good standup striker,” Warren said. “Flatfooted, heavy hitter, real good counterpuncher. He’s good on the ground. I’ve got my hands full with this guy. He’s a lot bigger than me, but personally I’m not really focused on what he has. I’m focused on what I need to do to stay safe. Keep my hands up, keep my head moving, keep pushing that pace. It’s a five-round fight. That’s usually the best way for me to get a win.”
Curran has suggested that after getting knocked out by Vila, Warren may return to his wrestling roots. The 2006 Greco-Roman world champion made it clear he won’t be gun-shy in the cage, but he does plan on getting Curran to the mat.
“I’m just going to stick to the game plan of pushing the pace and making it a grind-out war -- something that I’m used to winning,” Warren said. “… I’m not standing in front of him and letting him hit me. I’m going to take him to the ground and try to win there.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:00:38).