Appearing as a coach on the Spike TV reality series Fight Master didn't just help former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren get more face time on television. It also led to a connection to help him with his next fight.
Warren was one of four coaches on the show, which also featured Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock and Greg Jackson. When Warren returns to the cage on Saturday for his first fight in 10 months, it will be with the help of one of his fellow coaches.
Warren (8-3), who meets Nick Kirk in the opening round of the Bellator bantamweight tournament Saturday, spent time with Jackson leading up to the fight.
"I trained down in New Mexico for probably a month for this camp," Warren said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Went down there three times, probably for a week and a half each. A lot of muscle memory is starting to come around. I feel like I'm on a teeter-totter edge and I'm starting to understand all aspects of fighting. So for me to sit back and have one of these veteran legends teach me the little corner positioning that I wasn't understanding before, it was priceless."
Warren, of course, has been multitasking in Bellator. In addition to his fight duties and coaching gig on Fight Master, he's worked as a color commentator on company broadcasts. Warren has seen the criticism Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has gotten in several corners, and he says his boss has treated him fairly.
"Bellator was going to give me all kinds of outside stuff," Warren said. "The reality show, color commentating, all that. They've stood by me, everything they said they were going to give me, they've delivered me. Bjorn takes it on the chin, but ... he's given the opportunity. He hasn't screwed me at all yet."
The former world champion Greco-Roman wrestler got a late start in MMA. He turns 37 on Halloween. He knows he's got a limited window in the sport, but as he takes stock, he feels he still has plenty to accomplish in the sport.
"I haven't really been injured," Warren said. "I've been hurt, I've had a few hard knockouts, but that just comes with the game. I have a few good years in me, I'd like to finish this year with a belt and then re-evaluate what's going to happen. I'm open-minded, I know this is a young man's game and I'm kind of old. I'm still 100 percent."
The winner of the tournament will get a shot at current champion Eduardo Dantas. Given that Warren has just one win in the past two-and-a-half-years, he's not about to talk any trash.
"He's a young stud," Warren said. "You have to get excited about Bellator champions. They're young, explosive, very exciting champs. The majority of all the Bellator champs. He's a young guy whose had his chin tested. He comes from an extremely good camp. I'm not in position to talk a lot of s--t, one fight at a time."
Wait, what was that? The "majority" of Bellator champs? Does Warren have a Bellator champ in mind who isn't exciting?
"We're wrestlers," Warren said. "All Bellator champions are wrestlers, the majority are or used to be. We're not always the funnest. Me, Ben, but if you want to talk about Ben Askren, he's extremely, just, humiliating people, beating them within an inch of their life. I mean, the Russian he just beat was one of the toughest fighters I've seen in a long, long time and he beat him like a little girl. To overpower a guy like that, I'm open minded to see what's going to happen with Ben, where he's going to be, what's going to happen. But I don't know whose going to stop him to begin with."