Former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren will be returning to the Bellator cage at bantamweight. The former champ took some time away from the sport after a devastating KO loss to Pat Curran at Bellator 60. Warren will have the full support of Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney when he makes the move.
MMAJunkie first reported the move.
The usually boisterous fighter came into Bellator 60 a little more reserved after failing to escape the Season 5 quarterfinals of the Bellator bantamweight tournament due to Alexis Vila’s 2011 “KO of the Year” nominee. The loss was the first KO loss of his career and will it was devastating loss, it was far less horrific than the beating Warren took from Curran. Curran rocked Warren in the third, which sent the champ reeling against the cage. Curran then unloaded a barrage of shots that continually landed on the clearly incapacitated, but still standing, fighter.
The fight inexplicably was allowed to go on until Curran essentially asked the referee to end the bout on Warren’s behalf. The horrific beating drew the ire of the CEO Rebney, who told MMAJunkie:
“It’s the only time I can remember sitting cageside where I actually threw my headset off and started screaming,” said Rebney, “It was hard to watch. There are moments in time where you see athletes freeze, and there we saw a referee freeze. For some reason, he was not reacting to it. I don’t know if it was the lights or the cameras or what it was, but it was a very poor job. It should’ve been stopped five, six seconds or more before it was stopped.”
Warren would have to take some time off due to a concussion but the 35 year-old fighter also needed some time to consider if he still wanted to fight after two knockout losses in a row. Warren decided he wanted to continue and asked Rebney if he could make another run, this time at bantamweight. Stated Rebney:
“He’s cognizant of the fact he’s older and there’s not much of a window left,” Rebney said. “But he’s also fairly realistic. He goes, ‘I’m not getting any younger. That’s not the way I want to go out. I’d like to give it one more run at ’35. My losses were one crazy shot, and I fought Pat Curran, arguably the best featherweight in the world. It’s not my right weight, but I was the champ and I had to defend. Can I have one more shot at ’35?’
“With a guy with that kind of heart, I can’t at this point say to him, ‘No, I’m not going to give you another shot.’ He’s been awesome, and he’s a warrior, so you give him another shot and we’ll see. Hopefully he can turn it around and the outcome isn’t what it’s been the last couple.”
With Bellator making a move to Spike TV next year, Warren’s personality and wrestling credentials could prove invaluable to the company as they move to the network. While no timetable for Warren’s return has been announced yet, he could very well find himself kicking of the 2013 network move in an upcoming bantamweight tournament.