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Zuffa should hire Joe Warren and bring the Featherweight division to UFC

By Zach Arnold | October 7, 2009

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Throughout all the talk about WEC surviving in 2010 and the promotion doing a PPV or two, the debate has been about whether or not WEC has enough star power to make it on its own. We know Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres have star potential and the two champions (Mike Brown and Brian Bowles) are very respectable fighters. Dominick Cruz is on his way up and Joe Benavidez is always a high-paced fighter.

However, there was one fighter whose charisma and personality caught my eye this week and that’s Joe Warren. Sure, we know Warren beat Kid Yamamoto by split decision and lost to Bibiano Fernandes on Tuesday at DREAM 11. Yes, he is a newcomer in the sense that he only has three fights, but Joe Warren has two qualities that could easily make him a top-level MMA star in America — a great heelish/cocky personality and super amateur wrestling credentials.

Warren is an exciting fighter to watch in the ring and outside the ring, he has a personality that comes across as a more likeable, dynamic version of Matt Hughes. He can talk really well and make people want to see him, win or lose. His promos in the Japanese media leading up to the DREAM 11 Featherweight GP tournament fight against Bibiano Fernandes were really fun to watch. Warren seems really comfortable in front of the press and has a unique quality of knowing how to put himself over but also put over a fight. He uses terms like ‘taking the guy’s soul’ and violence and all sorts of other phrases to describe what he wants to do to his opponents. The guy’s good at what he does and is only going to get better in the ring.

Warren mentioned that he is currently training with Alberto Crane and Rani Yahya for his jiu-jitsu skills. He needs some time to train and obviously he would like to be involved in the 2012 London Olympics, but an MMA promoter would be absolutely foolish not to snatch him up in the States and push him very hard. Watching Warren compete with the likes of Brown and Faber would be great, but not in the WEC platform — the Featherweight division needs to be in UFC so that new stars can be developed and added to the current crop of top fighters at 145 pounds.

It’s time to give DREAM some credit here — they are pushing some new faces in addition to the old PRIDE names and it’s great to see some fighters get a chance to fight in Japan for a promotion that will give them more matches than a company like Strikeforce.

Topics: DREAM, Japan, Media, MMA, UFC, WEC, Zach Arnold | 15 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

15 Responses to “Zuffa should hire Joe Warren and bring the Featherweight division to UFC”

  1. jr says:

    Hopefully Joe can stay clean

  2. Dave says:

    Warren is exactly the kind of guy that could excel in American MMA. He has a strong wrestling pedigree, personality, the drive to keep working.

  3. Ivan Trembow says:

    Warren pulled a C.B. Dollaway when he tried to claim that he didn’t tap, even though it certainly appeared that he did (with his fingers). Even if hypothetically he hadn’t tapped at all, his arm was in such a position that the referee would have been completely justified to stop the fight at that moment by technical submission, because Warren would have had a serious arm/elbow injury.

  4. PizzaChef says:

    Even after this article, I still think Zach will be accused of being “pro Zuffa” and anti-PRIDE/DREAM.

  5. d says:

    Agreed on all the major points except for the fact that the guy wrestles at 60kg and should fight at 135 stateside.

  6. Kelvin says:

    I like the idea of Warren in the WEC.

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    I believe Warren was around 138 pounds for the DREAMweigh-ins. Definitely a Bantamweight over here in the states.

    I really want to see the Featherweight & Bantamweight Divisions in the UFC. It would allow the smaller Lightweights to get the same money and move down a weight class. Lightweight is already beyond stacked. If even a few solid fighters make the cut, it will strengthen Featherweight even more.

    Te ripple effect will even happen when some of the smaller Featherweights have to move down to Bantamweight due to the shift. I think it only strengthens the sport as a whole.

    And the tournament stuff in Japan is like throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and hoping something sticks. Any larger organization can do that. It doesn’t exactly help out for long term matchmaking needs. If the finals went the other way, DREAM would have a “Featherweight” Champion that was just a WEC washout. That would have been a disaster from an American Fans perspective.

  8. brent says:

    they should hire aoiki and hansen to the fw class, b/c they sure in the hell’s are not lw’s. đŸ™‚

  9. 45 Huddle says:

    Can Aoki make 145? I know he is a twig, but he is pretty tall. I think if he could get down to 145 pounds, he would be #1 in the world. I see him beating Brown & Faber. At Lightweight, he has a hard time with the power of some of the fighters.

    Hansen can definitely get down. He was like 151 for the weigh-ins.

    It’s a shame DREAM doesn’t use the unified weight class system….

  10. Ivan Trembow says:

    Suddenly it doesn’t seem so bright to push fighters based on their ability to get wasted and do stupid things:

    Releasing Junie Browning at this point was the only option that the UFC had, but they could have also released him during the TUF 8 season, or after he lost his fight on TUF 8, or after he lost in a one-sided fight to Cole Miller. They didn’t, which speaks volumes about just how much they rewarded his drunken, “craziest season ever” behavior.

  11. Wolverine says:

    I doubt Aoki can make featherweight, Hansen cane make it easily. Also Warren will be better suited for bantamweight.

  12. Ivan Trembow says:

    If Aoki’s walking-around weight is 155-to-160, he could probably make 145 easily. There are more than a handful of fighters who walk around at 155 and fight at 135, just as there are plenty of fighters who walk around at 175 and fight at 155.

  13. Wolverine says:

    I checked his Dream welterweight GP weigh-in and he was 161 so I guess he can make featherweight, altough I don’t think it’s necessary in his case.

    He is the second best lightweight in the world at the moment, unless he dramatically loses his next 2-3 fights to bigger guys, I don’t believe his needs to drop down.

  14. Lendo says:

    I’ve been following Warren for about a year now…great fighter. I doubt he’ll come to the USA to fight, it’s been said that he makes more money fighting in Japan.
    And this is just my personal opinion, but I like the WEC the way it is.

  15. DNGR JAY says:

    how many of you actuactly cut weight and fight hoiw do you know what they can do…you guys just critique from the sidelines …


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