On Friday, October 10, Bellator MMA’s bantamweight title will be unified as interim champion, Joe Warren, takes on champion, Eduardo Dantas, at Bellator 128.

The two were originally slated to meet in April at Bellator 118, but Dantas pulled out of the bout, and Warren went on to win the newly created interim bantamweight title by defeating Rafael Silva via unanimous decision. Now Warren is looking to prove to the world that he is and has always been, the real bantamweight champion.

“My motivation is one thinggetting another Bellator belt,” Warren told The MMA Corner. “I’m the Bellator bantamweight champ right now and Dantas is trying to come get his belt back. So my focus on this fight is to be extremely violent and go out there and perform and impress myself. I want to get another big win in the Bellator cage.”

Competing on the big stage is nothing new for Warren. During his amateur wrestling days, Warren won an elusive Greco-Roman world championship and has won Bellator titles in two weight classes.

With that wealth of experience, Warren doesn’t shy away from the spotlight and he likes to get inside the heads of his opponents. Leading up to this fight Warren has not been afraid to throw verbal jabs at Dantas to throw him off of his game.

“I’m the veteran fighter that’s what I do,” Warren said. “It’s a very comfortable fight for me. Another high-pressure belt fight that’s comfortable for me. I don’t know if it’s very comfortable for him. I speak the truth and talk a little trash to him; he’s a younger kid, so I think I got in his head a little bit and that’s funny to watch.”

“I don’t give a shit how it affects him personally,” Warren continued. “I personally speak the truth, so I’m outspoken a little bit, but it’s usually the truth that’s coming out and people don’t like to hear it. I think this is a new thing for him to have someone in his head and him talking; I’m not sure he’s used to talking a lot of trash and it doesn’t come off very smooth.”

Even though Dantas has more fights under his belt, Warren sees himself as the veteran heading into this bout and he believes that his experience on the big stage gives him a huge advantage.

“I have the experience in this fight,” Warren said. “And I’m a veteran of winning world championships not just in MMA, but in dual sports; Greco-Roman Wrestling and two weights here in MMA. This is a very comfortable situation for me. The high-pressure fights, the title fights. The big stage, a lot of people, a lot of trash talk. Just the environment of a big fight is comfortable for me so yes I believe I have the advantage.”

It’s unclear if Dantas feels the same level of comfort under the bright lights. Shortly after winning the Bellator bantamweight title, Dantas was knocked out in the very first round of a fight he took in his native Brazil. Many in the MMA community saw the loss as a black cloud hanging over the legitimacy of the Bellator bantamweight title, but Warren didn’t see it that way.

“We fight in the toughest sport in the world in mixed martial arts,” Warren said. “The most unpredictable sport in the world. You can be the best technically, in the best shape physically the best you’ve ever felt and something weird can happen. You get caught with a left hook or something and you go down. So no, I don’t take anything from it; he probably got tougher because of that. I’ve known when I have gone down also; I went down after the first punch against Alexis Vila and I was in the best shape of my life. It just kind of taught me that we are in a very unpredictable sport and at any time everything can change. It’s a crazy sport.”

But while Warren is able to look past Dantas’s hiccup against Tyson Nam, he can’t look past the fact that it has taken so long for Dantas to get into the cage with him.

“I’ve been trying to fight him for a year now and he’s been running from me,” Warren said. “So I am the Bellator champion right now. I have the belt around my waist and he’s trying to come back to get it. Bellator has told me that, several times, that this fighter would never fight again and this, this and this. So I’ve taken big fights, against tougher fighters like Rafael Silva to get these belts. Now he’s back so I don’t believe a lot of things coming out of his mouth. Unifying the belt would be very exciting for me, winning another world championship. This is a job for me and I plan on getting the job done.”

With such an accomplished career as an athlete, it can be difficult to rank various achievements but for Warren one title stands out from the rest.

“It’s hard to say,” Warren said about which of his accomplishments means the most to him. “It’s always the one that you won last time. But you put them all up there. Winning a world championship, I was only one of four Americans to ever do that so that’s a very special moment for me. I worked my whole life for that so winning a Greco-Roman world championship is, not just in my eyes but almost every eye in the world, probably the most impressive thing I’ve done. Winning these two Bellator belts, it’s extremely gratifying for me because I switched to a sport that I knew nothing about and going into my fifth year and I’ve already won two belts in a really tough organization so I’m really proud of both of those.”

“On Friday, it’s going to be another great win for me.”


About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.

  • Robby Collins

    Joe Warren is the Conor McGregor of Bellator. They are the ‘marketable’ guys. But they are also cartoon characters who only serve to diminish the sport. They can both certainly fight, but they still have net negative effects on the sport with their cheesy ‘world wrestling’ personas. Warren said some nice things in this interview, too bad he doesn’t assume a similar persona in front of the camera.