Before the Joe Warren-Joe Soto fight for the Bellator Featherweight title, the storyline seemed clear. Warren was the brash and cocky prospect; Soto would uphold the dignity of the martial arts by closing his big mouth.
Then they stepped into the cage.
In his domain, Soto was loud and arrogant as Warren was outside the cage. In the first round, Soto taunted and showboated his way to a 10-8 round. He outboxed the game wrestler who hasn't quite developed a complete game. But mixed martial arts is funny - just when you think you have all the answers, it changes the questions.
Out of nowhere, Warren connected with a right hand to the temple, dropping Soto. Suddenly the Diaz brothers styling and profiling seemed like it was part of a different fight. Suddenly, things got very serious for the 23 year old champion. There was no quit in Soto, a kid who grew up hard, encouraged by his older brothers to fight neighborhood kids for money. He scrambled to his feet, only to be met by a Warren knee that ended his night.
"I told you I was going to win," Warren said after the fight. "I came in here and got the job done. I’m super happy to be a World Champion. This is the first time I’ve knocked someone out – there is a lot more to come."
Despite Warren walking away with the title, both fighters were winners last night. Soto may have lost a fight, but he gained some invaluable knowledge. In MMA, no matter how dominant you feel you might be, the fight is never over. Four ounce gloves are the great equalizer - just ask Georges St. Pierre and Mirko Cro Cop, other favorites who were unceremoniously brought back to Earth by lesser fighters. There is no room to breathe, no time to relax, no moment you can let down your guard. You have to fight until the final bell rings, because, if cliches have taught us anything, it's that anything can happen in MMA. Last night Joe Warren proved that to be true. Joe Soto will be the better fighter for it.
Quote courtesy of Bellator.