Bellator Fighting Championships announced today that three-time world champion Greco-Roman wrestler and highly-sought-after MMA prodigy Joe Warren has signed a long-term promotional agreement with Bellator and will compete in the promotion’s upcoming featherweight (145 lbs.) tournament this April on FOX Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo.
Warren is known throughout MMA for making one of the most remarkable debuts in the sport’s history, knocking off former WEC Champion Chase Beebe and Japanese superstar Kid Yamamoto in his first two professional fights. The Beebe bout, Warren admits, “was the first time I ever taped my hands or wore a cup,” and it came just three months after he first began MMA training.
“We are very excited about this signing and being the MMA organization that brought Joe back to the states,” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “Joe has the ability, drive, confidence and personality to become a star in our sport. His first two wins would make a good career for most fighters and as his stand-up continues developing, the sky is the limit for Joe Warren.”
The 33-year-old Warren has been competing at a world-class level for years, training with the U.S Olympic Team and taking home gold medals at the 2006 Pan-Am Games, the 2006 FILA Wrestling World Championships and the 2007 Wrestling World Cup. Before that, he was an All-American freestyle wrestler at the University of Michigan. He made his stunning MMA debut last spring in Japan’s DREAM Grand Prix tournament.
“I competed for the USA for 10 years and I bleed red, white and blue,” Warren said. “So I’m ready to come back to this country, make my U.S. debut and fight in front of the American MMA fans. I love everything that Bellator is doing and I’m just honored to be a part of their organization.”
Warren, who is a member of the famed Team Quest, said he is focused now on continuing to hone his stand-up game, an education that has been accelerated by his experiences training with other top-caliber fighters including former WEC Champion Urijah Faber, Pride FC Champion Dan Henderson and WEC standout Scott Jorgensen.
“My hands are getting quicker, I’m seeing the openings quicker … I’m just getting better every single day. I’m already 1,000 times better than I was in my last fight,” he said. “With my style and my experience and my never-lose, never-die attitude, it’s gonna be really exciting for Bellator and for everyone who’ll be watching on TV.”
Among those who’ll certainly be watching are Warren’s wife, Christy Cech, and their 18-month-old son, Xandr Achilles Warren. The couple is expecting their second child in March.
“My family has always been behind me and they believe in me a lot, which drives me,” Warren said. “I’m a family man, but I’m also a warrior. I’ve been through a lot of battles in my life so I thrive on it. In the heat of battle, some people turn, some people run and some people stand up and fight. I see this as a battle and I can promise that I’m gonna stand up in fight.”
Warren is entering a lions den in Bellator’s eight-man Season 2 featherweight tournament where competitors include Georgi Karakhanyan, William Romero, Patricio Pitbull and Bao Quach. Bellator will also conduct tournaments at 155, 170 and 185 lbs. during Season 2, which begins April 8th. The winners in each division will be declared No. 1 contenders to the current roster of champions.
Each of Bellator’s 24 fights during Seasons 2 and 3 will be distributed live in primetime on Thursday nights on FOX Sports Net and its regional sports network affiliates. The top moments from each week’s live events will then be condensed into an action-packed 30-minute highlight show, broadcast every Saturday night, late night, on NBC. A one-hour highlight show will air in Spanish on Telemundo every Saturday night from midnight to 1 a.m.