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Joe Warren says he wanted to be an MMA commentator but got told to be a fighter first

By Zach Arnold | July 21, 2011

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MIKE STRAKA: “So, let’s talk. First of all, I hear you want to go down to Bantamweight, is that right?”

JOE WARREN: “That’s a natural weight for me, you know, I walk around 145, so, uh… it’s a career move for me, a safe career move, you know, to get down and fight those studs at 135, get the belt there and defend both belts.”

MIKE STRAKA: “Now, that would be 2012, a year that you could be the Bantamweight, the Featherweight champion of Bellator, but also maybe a gold medalist on the U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling Team, is that right?”

JOE WARREN: “Yeah, that’s the plan here, you know, we got a plan for the next year and right now the plan is another belt at 35 and then make the Olympic team and go win that thing. But, you know, it’s one day at a time for me keeping focus and if you look too far ahead sometimes it’s rough for me. But I got a real tough here against Alexis Villa first and then, we’ll see what happens, you know?”

MIKE STRAKA: “Alexis Villa, he’s a Cuban wrestler, another great wrestler like yourself. But how’s the transition been for you, going from being a wrestling guy, a mat guy, I see your ground-and-pound is great, stand-up not so great?”

JOE WARREN: “It’s great now, okay, so watch out. Yeah, I mean I was a wrestler, came from the Olympic Training Center and jumped directly into Japan and fought the featherweight world championship. I wanted to actually be a color commentator and they said I had no credibility in fighting, so I should fight. So Dan & Heath at Team Quest, ex-teammates of mine, gave me a call and said, two weeks, we can get you into this featherweight championship. So, I didn’t really have any training, just wrestling, so…”

MIKE STRAKA: “First of all, who told you had no credibility to be a color commentator? I mean, how many fights has Joe Rogan had?”

JOE WARREN: “Exactly, but you know, I wanted to be a better color commentator than that, okay? So, I just to want make sure that I knew what I was doing and actually had credibility. So, now that I have some belts, you know, I’ll get a few more belts and maybe stand next to him some day, you never know.”

MIKE STRAKA: “Well, have you ever considered doing wrestling commentary? I see Cael Sanderson doing some stuff, John Smith…”

JOE WARREN: “Yeah, I’ll probably do a lot of that, but I got a family so it’s a business for me, it’s a job, they don’t usually pay the wrestling commentators really well.”

MIKE STRAKA: “Well, speaking of family, you’ve got Xander, how old is Xander?”

JOE WARREN: “He just turned three last week, and I have a daughter, she’s 14 months (old), and my wife Christy, love ’em. That’s why I really got into this, you know, it’s my job and I fight for them so it’s nice, I got a good, strong support cast at home. It keeps me focused and training hard.”

MIKE STRAKA: “What’s the difference, Joe, between being an amateur wrestling and going for the gold in the Olympics and the World Games, things like that, to being a professional fighter?”

JOE WARREN: “You know, it’s completely two different things, you know. These are professional athletes, the best of the best at the Olympic level, you know, their whole life is based around winning a gold medal for this Olympic, It’s life or death for them, so once you compete against one of those guys in a foreign country, it’s very personal. So the match is a battle, it’s like the worst war you’ve seen in the cage. I’m seeing this is more of a business and people love to fight and it’s exciting and so you see two different guys get matched up, one five-time world champ jiu-jitsu, five-time world champ wrestler, so you see a clash. Now I’m seeing better athletes, top-tier fighters get into fighting. It’s changed a lot. So, the difference is pretty tough but hand-to-hand they’re very similar.”

MIKE STRAKA: “The sport’s called Mixed Martial Arts, you’re a wrestler and maybe you’re learning some striking. Would you ever consider yourself a martial artist?”

JOE WARREN: “Well, I consider myself a fighter now, okay, not a wrestler. I’ve put too much into this and I’m starting to love this sport. It was hard for me to love this sport earlier in the last year and a half because I was fighting so much, I think I fought 8 times in a year and a half, two years, 8 times, so I couldn’t learn any technique, my muscle memory, that’s why my hands were bad. But now I’ve put that time in, I’m putting the time in every single day and I’m starting to love jiu-jitsu and striking because I’m learning the sport, you know, I respect both of those sports more and more every day when I get some technique.”

MIKE STRAKA: “Have you been training your wrestling? (Olympics)”

JOE WARREN: “Yeah, I have a home in Monument, Colorado, so it’s 30 minutes from the Olympic Training Center, 30 minutes from my gym in Denver. So, yeah, I’m still in there, the best place I think to train in the world is at the OTC. It’s a team atmosphere and I’ve been pushing real hard.”

MIKE STRAKA: “Your next fight with Villa, are you guys going to negate each other’s wrestling, you think?”

JOE WARREN: “You know, he’s a Freestyler, you know, so if he drops down and grab his leg right here he might get knee’d in the face, but you never know. It might negate it but that’s better for me because I have a longer reach, bigger hands, and my hands are working better. So, it’s going to be a war, I mean this is a champion and I’m a champion, so when we both get in there neither of us like to break. But those are those situations that I’m comfortable in, you know, the war where it gets down and dirty, that’s where I shine.”

MIKE STRAKA: “Now, you talk about this is your job and you do it for your family and things like that. Christy, your wife, how long have you been together?”

JOE WARREN: “We’ve been together for like 12 years, so it’s been a while.”

MIKE STRAKA: “So, to her, your fighting world and your sports, athletic world, that’s just second nature to her?”

JOE WARREN: “It’s second nature. We met in college, she was older than me, she got a full-time job, a medical sales job to support me so I could go after my Olympic gold, I wanted to win the Worlds, I was focused, she believed in me. So, she got a job and worked hard and supported us for six, seven years and now it’s my turn, so she’s at home with the babies and I’m beating people up for money. So, that’s how it goes. But to have that support structure, someone who believes in you, you gain ground every single day with that.”

MIKE STRAKA: “How devastated were you when you didn’t compete in the Olympics?”

JOE WARREN: “You know, it was tough, I don’t think I lost three years up to that. I won the Pan American games, I won the World Cup, I won the World Championship, I won everything. So, me making that team and not being able to compete? You know, it was a blow to me but things happen, you know, I just move through it. I get another chance now to make that team and now I’m a fighter. Look at this, this is awesome. I enjoy the big stage. I enjoyed fighting in Japan, stuff like that. So, not winning that gold hurt then but it made me stronger and a champion is able to move through those bumps and keep going forward.”

MIKE STRAKA: “What did you say to Christy when everything she sacrificed for you to get there, how did you reconcile that with her?”

JOE WARREN: “The reason it happened is we lost a baby right at that time, you know, and it was rough on both of us. There’s not much you can say. It was a mistake that I made and I dealt with it, you know, it’s done and it’s over with but I get a second chance.”

MIKE STRAKA: “This is some personal shit, you know what I mean?”

JOE WARREN: “Yeah, it’s personal, I mean, fighting’s personal, man. I mean, all these sports are personal and what we do, what you do, is to try to teach everyone who we are so we can just educate people that we’re real people, we’re the same person as your next-door neighbor. We’re just not good at accounting, we’re good at punching people, that’s the difference. But, you know, every day in and day out is a struggle always for everyone. It might their job or it might be fighting, so, we just try to stay positive and keep moving forward and one day at a time and usually it’s good.”

Topics: Bellator, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 3 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

3 Responses to “Joe Warren says he wanted to be an MMA commentator but got told to be a fighter first”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Warren would make a bad MMA Commentator. Not like there are many good ones out there, but I just don’t see him in that role.

    Guys like Kenny Florian come to mind when I think of good active fighters who will be great at that role when they retire.

    As for fighting…. Warren is all heart, but continues to make the same mistakes in fights over and over again. He is going to have a tough time when he fights the better, more disciplined fighters as he gets through his career more.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Also be wary of fighter’s who use their chin as one of their more effective defensive weapons.

      Dude ducks into lots of knees, eats lots of punches and also has an uncanny ability to muscle out of tight subs, all of which also gasses a fighter out…and doing that against top guys night in and night out…bad news.

  2. Nepal says:

    I do wonder about Joe Warren. The guy’s a great athlete, he has shown some glimpses of greatness. He has, as he says been fighting all the time. Most top level guys only fight twice per year, they want the down time to work on getting better at all aspects of MMA. As great an athlete as Warren is, maybe this lower fight schedule of late will help him. It’s true, he wins his fights by sheer heart and determination. If he can take the time to add some better jitz and boxing, he really could be something. I think he’s 35 so he better do it now before it’s too late.


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