||12-19-2010 08:38 AM
Bellator champ Joe Warren eyes Olympic gold
The self-proclaimed "Baddest Man on the Planet" already has Bellator Fighting Championships gold around his waist.
Now he's looking to put Olympic gold around his neck.
Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren (6-1 MMA, 4-0 BFC) plans on making a return to the international wrestling scene next year in an effort to qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
"I'm going to put the MMA on hold for six or seven months," Warren told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I'm going to win the Olympics."
It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility for Warren. The former University of Michigan wrestler earned gold medals in Greco-Roman wrestling in the both 2006 World Championships and Pan-American Championships, as well as the 2007 World Cup.
Warren was a favorite to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games, but he was pulled from the qualifying trials after testing positive for marijuana.
Warren said he wants to go back and finish what he started, and he believes he's still more than capable of taking home the Olympic title.
"I'm in a position right now where I'm the best wrestler in the world," Warren said. "My technique is there, and I have my coaches. Right now, I'm physically better than I've ever been. Fighting is helping that.
"I still train at the Olympic Training Center three or four times a week. I believe I can win this Olympic championship. It's the only thing I didn't win in wrestling."
Of course, Warren's motivation isn't solely based on hardware. In 2009, USA Wrestling developed a program entitled the "Living the Dream Medal Fund," in which U.S. Olympic wrestlers can earn $250,000 for a gold medal win.
While the offer is certainly appealing to Warren, who made his MMA debut in 2009, the seven-fight veteran doesn't necessarily believe the program will lure other mixed martial artists with accomplished wrestling backgrounds into putting their pro fighting careers on hold.
"Wrestling is not the same," Warren said. "People do it their whole life to win, and if they're not winning now, they're not going to start winning 10 years out of their prime for money. If that was the case before, then these guys would still be around.
"However, I'm happy to have any guys come out of retirement and do whatever. Make sure you come out of retirement in my weightclass because I'll kick your [expletive] ass."
As for his MMA aspirations, Warren said he had hoped to fight for DREAM on New Year's Eve, but that now looks unlikely. Instead, he hopes to soon defend his 145-pound Bellator belt, as well as enter the company's 135-pound tournament in order to capture two titles.
"I'll fight February for Bellator, July for Bellator, then enter the 135-pound tournament for Bellator," Warren said. "Then I will stop fighting in December of next year and win the Olympics.
"I would like to win the gold, win the 135-pound belt, defend my 145-pound belt, and then come win some other belts. I believe I can get it done. It's my love. I've done it my whole life. I'm going to go get a gold medal in London, and it's $250,000, so come on."
Lofty aspirations, for sure, but Warren has never been one to settle for second-best. And while the 34-year-old's 2011 calendar will be filled with both MMA bouts and wrestling tournaments, Warren believes he's ready to tackle the challenge.
"Wrestling is a progression sport," Warren said. "You get better with age. It's skill level, it's technique, it's muscle memory. If you're older and still not hurt and ready to rock and roll, then why not get it done?
"Not a lot of people can do it. I believe I can."