Joe Warren file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
One of the top fights slated for Dream 16 on Sept. 25 in Nagoya, Japan, was a featherweight matchup pitting the world-ranked Michihiro Omigawa against newly crowned Bellator Fighting Championships featherweight titleholder Joe Warren.
However, during an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s Savage Dog Show on Friday, Warren said he will not face Omigawa at the event.
“It doesn’t look like I’m fighting in Japan,” said Warren, who knocked out Joe Soto at Bellator 27 in San Antonio to win his title. “It just didn’t work out very well. We didn’t come to an agreement, and it didn’t look like it was the best opportunity for me at that time. I thought it was, but it just isn’t going to go down.”
Even though the fight with Omigawa did not materialize, Warren -- a Greco-Roman wrestler who won gold medals at the 2006 Pan-Am Games, the 2006 FILA Wrestling World Championships and the 2007 Wrestling World Cup -- hopes to have two more fights before the end of the year.
“We’re training hard right now,” Warren said. “I have Kit Cope in town teaching me how to not get hit and land some punches. I need to keep fighting and keep getting better. I probably won’t fight until November or December, so that will give me two months to get ready, and the best way to learn how to fight is by fighting. I’m still young, still healthy and injury-free.”
The 33-year-old Warren burst onto the MMA scene in March 2009, debuting with a first-round technical knockout win over former World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight champion Chase Beebe. He then outpointed Japanese star Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. After a submission loss to Bibiano Fernandes at Dream 11 in October, he posted four wins in five months in 2010 en route to winning Bellator’s second season featherweight tournament and take the title from Soto.
“The way I won both [world titles in wrestling and MMA] -- the hard work I put in and the sacrifices -- makes them mean a lot,” Warren said. “To me, there’s a special place for both of them. It’s real exciting to win the fighting world championship the way I did with the knockout. I hadn’t had one, and both have a special place in my heart. Now, I get an opportunity to sit on top and train for these fights and be ready.
Warren likes life as a front runner.
“It’s a lot easier when you’re on top,” he said. “I’m used to being on top, so it’s been a different role for me to have to fight my way up. I’m really happy to have a belt in MMA and be able to get an opportunity to keep defending it.”
Warren’s mixed martial arts fights have come at featherweight, but a drop to the 135-pound weight class may be in his future, especially after he attempts to make the 2012 Olympic wrestling team at 60 kilograms (132 pounds). He said he will continue to pursue MMA training while he tries to qualify for the Olympics.
“I’d be a lot more comfortable at 135, but there’s more money for me at 145,” Warren said. “In four years, I’ll be too old to [try to make an Olympic team], so the time to push is now. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had no injuries to keep me from training or keep me off the mat. We’re confident with what we have going on. I’m still training at the Olympic Training Center, and I’m focused on that. I’m still focused on winning in fighting, as well.”