This interview was conducted one hour before Joe Warren had to weigh in for the final event of this season’s Bellator. Joe was vomiting in his locker room from the weight-cut and in the middle of the interview, the guys at Team Quest made him hop on a bike in order to shed even more weight. During all of this, Joe somehow had the patience to put up with our ridiculous questions and for that simple fact alone, we will forever be rooting for him. The next day at the Bellator featherweight tournament finals, Warren managed to claim a split-decision win over Patricio Pitbull handing him his first loss in his six year career. We would like to think that without our interview the day before, none of this would have been possible. It’s all about us, at least that’s what our parents told us back in the day. Check out our timely interview with the 2010 Bellator featherweight tournament champion, Joe Warren, conducted by Rachel only at MiddleEasy.com – Because MMA is everything.
Alright, we have to get this out the way and I’m sure you’ve been asked this questions hundreds of times but we’ve never asked you this so it makes it completely new to us: Dream 11, your fight against Bibiano Fernandes. You said you didn’t tap, the ref said you did. What happened there there, from your perspective.It was a referee stoppage. They stopped the fight because they thought my arm was in danger of breaking. In Japan, they can do that instead of someone tapping or verbally submitting, they can stop the fight if they think that the athlete’s in danger. And that’s what they did. I was in a tough division, but I’ve been in a lot of other ones also and they can stop the fight real fast. I wasn’t real happy about it but I’ll get another chance at him this year.
Currently, you have the same record as Brock Lesnar, how does that make you feel?Brock and I have wrestled together for years. I haven’t even thought about that…4-1. ‘4-1’ just means I lost and I’m not real happy about it. I don’t really worry about records all that much.
Can you tell me a little bit about fighting in Japan, when you are standing there for the Dream opening ceremony how close do you come to having a seizure?I’m used to the lime light. I’m used to competing in high-level competitions: the Olympics, World, Pan-American games so I’ve been in that situation a lot. It feels very comfortable to me. It’s a great performance. It’s a lot of fun to be there in front of 50,000 people competing. It’s a lot of fun with all of the pyrotechnics and everything they have going on. I really enjoy it over there. Its really more of an entertainment aspect instead of a sporting event. I like that. I like how the fans enjoy it. I like how many people there are, how respectful they are and how big they do it. I do this because I enjoy it, but I do it because I like fighting in front of people too. So to be able to get the opportunity to fight in front of 50,000 is just a lot of fun for a fighter.
Sakuraba and Nick Diaz are huge advocates on the ring in MMA. I assume with your relentless style, you would prefer the cage, Am I right?I fought in Dream with the ring—the first 2-3 fights I had. Now my next fights three fights here in the U.S. have been in a cage, so I think I like fighting in a cage a little better, personally. The ring is nice, but they can stop the match a lot to bring people back to the center and can put you in a pretty awkward position back in the middle of a ring instead of on a cage and just keep you competing against them. So I think I like the cage a little better.
You are shooting for seven fights this year. How long can you keep this pace?I haven’t know how to fight. This is my first year of competition, so I thought that if I could get as many fights as I could in a row, that maybe I’d be able to learn and explore it a little quicker than a lot of other people. So I tried to put as much as I could on my plate here. Also, I do this for money—I fight for money–so the bottom line is the more fights, the more money; the more wins, the more exposure. So that’s our road right now that we’re going down.
Do you think you’ll burn out quicker just trying to sustain that pace?I’m not someone who believes in that word. ‘Burned out’ that’s just a weak way of saying you’re done doing something. I think personally, Im just getting better and stronger. I’m not getting hurt at all. Its not as demanding as a wrestling career. So I think we’ll keep fighting until the Olympics, win the Olympics and then figure out what we’re going to do. Win some belts and start commentating hopefully.
Since you’re a ridiculously good wrestler, we have to ask: Who is the best wrestler in MMA right now (besides yourself)?I think all of us are extremely high-level athletes. I think Ben Askren on the top of the line is one of the better wrestlers. Muhammed Lawal–all those guys. I think those 2 guys: Ben and King Mo are probably the next two wrestlers out there that have competed recently.
Everyone at MiddleEasy supports medical marijuana, what’s your stance on marijuana and the sports world?You know me, I am ‘legalized’ in a few different states, so I am definitely for the legalization of marijuana. I’m legal in Michigan, California and Colorado, so I’m definitely am on that board.
Nick Diaz says Marijuana is all part of his ‘Grand plan’, is it a part of yours?Yes it is. It’s not a ‘grand plan’ it’s just something that I use with training and I’ve used for a long period of time. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s something that I do.
If you could smoke with Joe Rogan, Eddie Bravo or Frank Shamrock, who would you choose?Well I know Joe pretty well, so that one’s been done already.
Out of the other 2?I don’t know that’s not really questions I want to get into.
Tomorrow you face Patricio Freire in the Bellator Finals, why are you even talking with us right now? We appreciate it but…I don’t know. No problem. I’ve got to leave to go weigh in here in like 10 minutes, but I really appreciate you guys calling.
I think the entire MMA world knows how amazing of a match-up you and Joe Soto would be, not to look ahead but do you have some tricks up your sleeve when you get to face him in the finals?He’s a good wrestler. I’m just a better wrestler. I haven’t watched a lot on him yet. We’ve been focused on this fight, but when I get there, Joe Warren will be leaving with a big ole win again so the bottom line is: I don’t know how I’m going to get the win, but it’s going to happen.
Have you been training with the bigger guys in Team Quest?This training camp I did at Urijah’s camp at Ultimate Fitness in Sacramento. I trained with Scott Jorgensen a lot at his Combat Fitness in Boise. I just opened my own fight club in Denver, Colorado called the Rhino Sport Gallery. It is open. It will be grand opening soon. Rashad trained for Rampage there; Mo trained there; and I trained for my fight here at our place. Its going to be a good thing. It’s a wrestling club and a fight club.
When you defeated Kid Yamamoto, last May our lead writer wrote an article at four in the morning comparing your victory to that of James Buster Douglass over Mike Tyson. Did you fear for your life when you tried to exit the Yokohama Arena after defeating one of Japan’s legends in only your second fight?Yeah, they weren’t real happy about it. You know? They looked like someone sold their kid or took their candy. There were people crying. They are a very respectful country. They wouldn’t really do things like they would in the U.S. Like throw things or try to hurt you. They just looked very, very sad.
So the story is Urijah Faber told you how to defeat Kid Yamamoto, is that true? If so, what did he tell you?Yeah, when I decided to start fighting, I knew Urijah and those guys from wrestling, and I needed some help so we got a hold of them. He said he’s been wanting to fight kid Yamamoto for his whole life, and he’s watched all of his fights and he knows how to beat him. So I said ‘alright. I’m coming out’ and I came out for four weeks and went over and beat him.
Were there any specific tips that you think led to your victory?I’d never did any striking before. The fight before that was Chase Beebe and I did like 3 weeks of training ever before. That was the longest I ever did any training, so for me to switch and right away fight Kid everything was new to me so everything that they showed me was the first time I’d done it. They helped a lot for that fight actually. They helped a lot for this fight also.
That was also the same card as Jose Canseco vs Hong Man Choi. Would you like to see more professional sports athletes take a shot at MMA?Well I met Jose and I met those guys and, like I said, fighting in Japan is more entertainment than actually being part of a sporting event. It’s entertainment for them, so they like to throw those names together just to bring people to television and watch it or get more people in the stands. I don’t know how smart it is for these other athletes just to come in and start fighting. I think there is a lot more to fighting than what people think there is. There is a lot of technique involved there at higher levels. You are seeing these guys fight at big levels of competition but they’re fighting people that aren’t very good. I would just like to see these guys not come in here and get hurt without training. I don’t think Jose trained, but I know like Hershel Walker did a lot of training.
Do you plan to continue to compete in wrestling tournaments while you’re doing MMA or do you plan to solely focus on MMA?I’m going to focus for the next year on MMA, then I’m going to take some time off and win the Olympics in 2012.
Everyone on the internet is calling for a Joe Warren vs. Marlon Sandro match in the immediate future, what do you have to say to these people, should we call them crazy?Who’s that? I’m in this to fight the ‘super fights’. I like to fight the best guys every time. If this guy wants to maybe build a name by trying to come out and compete against me, that’s one thing. But if we could get something together and it was financially okay for me to get in there and fight, you know me I’m not worried about fighting anybody.
Do you have health insurance?That’s a good question, and no one’s ever asked me that. I do have my own health insurance. I’m on my wife’s plan. She’s a medical rep so we have great insurance. I’ve been on her plan since I was even competing on the Olympic level. At the Olympic level even people don’t have insurance. I’m surprised people get in that ring without having insurance, but the majority of fighters do not have it.
They should have something together for fighters. That’s been something that has been discussed—the fact that there is not something set up in UFC for example. UFC is a monopoly man. They’re there for one reason and also—to make money. The guys that fight in UFC don’t fight for very much money either.
Carwin vs. Brock?Well Brock and me wrestled for years together, so I’d like to see Brock win but Carwin trains in Denver at Grudge and has been coming in and trying to wrestle a little bit with us at the Rhino Sport Gallery. Really I’m just looking to see a good fight. Something always goes wrong with making predictions. I think that’s going to be a good fight and fun for the fans to watch.
Any shout-outs?I’d just like to thank my wife and my babies. Without them, I wouldn’t be fighting. I want to thank Rhino Sport Gallery, my new club; the Ultimate Fitness guys; and Team Quest and Clynch Gear. And thank you for having me on.