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Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren has simple and modest goals for the rest of 2011:
- Defend and remain the 145-pound champ.
- Enter and win the Bellator 135-pound tournament and then win that title.
- Qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic wrestling team.
Lofty? Of course, but that's Warren, an extremely decorated wrestler who made his fighting debut at DREAM against two veterans and then followed that up with four straight wins in his debut Bellator season. He's done well, even taking home Bellator gold. Now he wants a lot more and is convinced he can get it all.
Bryan Alvarez and I interviewed Warren for 30 minutes recently at Wrestling Observer.com (subscription needed) as he continued preparation for his non-title fight against Marcos Galvao at Bellator 41 this Saturday in Yuma, AZ.
"(Fighting at 135) was the smartest thing for me to do. I weigh 142 pounds," Warren said. "These guys I fought weighed 170 and are big boys. At our weight and our level, 10 pounds is a big weight difference. 20 pounds for me without having a skill set was really tough. For me to stay around in this sport for a long time and be competitive, I'll hold that '45 belt for as long as I can. But I'm a 135-pound fighter. That's my size and that's my weight, so I'm going to win the belt at that weight to and hold that one. it's not going to be any harder. I have no problem being on top in two weights. The problem is trying to fight up there to get two belts."
Warren (6-1) will fight Galvao at a 137-pound catchweight to headline Saturday's show. Coincidentally, Bantamweight Champion Zach Makovsky is also on the card in a non-title fight against Chad Robichaux. Galvao (9-3-1) will be making his promotional debut and has won his last three after being cut by the WEC in 2009. Warren, however, doesn't seem too concerned.
"I've heard he's been talking a lot of smack," Warren said. "I'm going to take this Brazilian Marcos Galvao and teach him what it's like when I get down to 135."
Despite being 34 and the father of two young children, Warren is still able to keep up a furious athletic pace which has him training twice a day at the U.S. Olympic Center in Colorado Springs, CO, in addition to his MMA training. It's a hectic pace but one Warren feels he has to maintain to achieve his goals with the window of time he has remaining.
"I can't make the push to do both of these things (MMA and wrestling) in two or three years. It's not going to be an option for me to make another Olympic team," Warren confided. "It's a one-time chance. I'm pushing hard for it and if works out, great. If it doesn't work out, at least I tried and I'll never look back and get upset at myself."
Warren talked about his extensive wrestling background and why he wants to make the Olympic team, how Dan Henderson got him into MMA, making his fighting debut against Chase Beebe and Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, his recent appearance on TNA Wrestling and more in the interview.
Bellator 41 starts at 9 pm EST this Saturday on MTV2.