Coming off a loss to Darrion Caldwell in his first bout of 2016 in March, former Bellator bantamweight champion Joe Warren was in need of a win against Sirwan Kakai in September to stay in the title picture.
Just over a minute into the third round, Warren submitted Kakai and pick up his second win in his last three fights.
“Sirwan was an extremely tough fighter, and I knew that going in there,” Warren told MMAWeekly.com. “I think he’s one of the better fighters I’ve fought, and I fight a lot of unbelievable fighters.
“He came from a Greco-Roman background, so he did an unbelievable job wrestling against me. I usually win in every fight with my wrestling skills, but I had to revert to my striking in the second round, and put serious pressure on him to finish him. I’d rather die than lose in the Bellator cage, and he felt that.”
With the win over Kakai, Warren earned a shot at the Bellator bantamweight title held by Eduardo Dantas. For someone who has held multiple titles over his career, once again fighting for a championship is nothing new to Warren.
“It’s a very normal fight for me,” said Warren. “It’s another title fight, another title shot in Thackerville, it’s like my home territory there. Dantas and I fought there in the same situation a few years ago, and I beat him, so it’s a real comfortable situation.”
“After every fight, win or lose, I put in the time to move forward,” Warren said. “That’s the way you continue to be a champion: you don’t dwell on a win or a loss.
“Yeah, that was a tough (first) fight. I believe that I should have won every round and let him slide into a few. So this time, I’m focused on winning every single round and being extremely violent and offensive, and try to finish it this time and not let it drag into those deep waters.”
For Warren, becoming champion again is not the fulfillment of his goals, but yet another opportunity to set new ones as he heads into 2017.
“I’m a goal-setter, that’s how I win,” said Warren. “Long term, short term goals, the goal is always for me to put another world championship behind my name. I’m honored to get another opportunity to win a belt for Bellator.
“I’m used to the atmosphere and the big moment and winning for Bellator, so it’s very comfortable and normal, but it’s a whole new belt and a whole new day. It’s very unpredictable in that cage, so you’ve got to make sure you’re ready to go every time.”