In late 2012, former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren set the goal of getting back to the top of the promotion and claiming another world title. This Friday, Warren has an opportunity to do just that when he faces Eduardo Dantas for the Bellator 135-pound title.
“That’s a test of a champion if you can get put down on your butt and you can push and get back to where you want to,” Warren told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s all about goal setting. I’m a great goal setter and a great goal achiever.
“The Owen Evinger fight (in November 2012) was the first step and here we are five fights later and it’s exciting to get back to where I’m comfortable.”
Warren won the interim bantamweight title in a fight this past may over Rafael Silva in a bout he feels was the kind of difficult test he can grow off of and become better from.
“I had been training to fight for the belt, period, and (Dantas) keeps running, backing out of fights five or six days before the fights, so that was upsetting, but I fought a tougher fighter than I was going to fight in Raphael Silva,” said Warren.
“Silva’s an extremely tough fighter – mentally as tough as any fighter I’ve fought against – and I got a win there; so it was exciting. I was happy with my performance, but there are places I can improve, and I believe I’ve improved from then until now.”
With the win over Silva, Warren feels he is the champion, and it’s up to Dantas to try to take the belt from him.
“I believe I am the champion in Bellator,” said Warren. “I had the belt around my waist and he pulled out against me, and doctors told me he’d never fight again, but now he is back and is trying to get his belt back and I’m honored to take this fight and get another great win in the Bellator cage.”
When Warren (11-3) faces Dantas (16-3) this Friday in Thackerville, Okla., he is confident that he’ll be able to take the fight to his opponent and come out on top.
“Technically, (Dantas is) as good as anyone I’ve fought, but I believe technically that I’m the best Joe Warren that’s ever been in the cage,” said Warren. “My muscle memory is there, my technique is there – everything I need to win is there and all I need to do is go out and perform. If I impose myself, then I will win that fight.
“He’s a younger kid who has never been five rounds, and five rounds is very comfortable to me; this is a very comfortable fight for me. This high-pressure title fight is what I do. This is probably the biggest fight of his career, while this is just another fight for me.”
Having achieved the kind of comeback he wanted to when he started two years ago, Warren is enjoying the opportunity to put one more feather in his cap and move forward as a Bellator titlist.
“My goal was to win a world championship, and I did against Silva, so this is just the cherry on top,” said Warren. “Dantas is a guy that has wanted to fight who wouldn’t fight me, so this is just going to be a gratifying and satisfying win for me.”