Joe Warren is just some regular dude.
He may have finished a former WEC bantamweight champion in his first fight, beat a revered Japanese legend known for wrecking opponents a weight class higher in his second, and has become a champion in under two years in the sport. I did that on my lunch break yesterday.
Warren has now set supposedly "lofty" goals of adding another Bellator championship belt to his collection and competing in the 2012 Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling. Hello? I'm totally thinking about making a grocery list later if I can find a pen, and these dishes aren't going to wash themselves.
Please reach down and bang on the sarcasm detector in your fanny pack if bells and whistles aren't going off. Joe Warren has embodied an ultra-talented, atypical fighter since he first set foot in the DREAM ring, etching his name on the list of Most Impressive Debuts in MMA History, and now the featherweight fireball is shedding a few pounds to shake up the bantamweight division.
Warren faces Nova Uniao black belt Marcos Galvao in a 137-pound catchweight bout that will headline Bellator 41 tonight, and Galvao is a sleeper who could spring some traps on the Team Quest juggernaut. The betting lines have Warren at -625 and Galvao at +425, so it's not a jaw-dropper that the reigning Bellator featherweight king is expected to be equally or more destructive against smaller opponents. Let's accept that Warren deserves to be the heavy favorite right off the bat and outline some spots that Galvao could be a handful.
First, a little about 9-3-1 Marcos "Louro" Galvao: he's a two-time Brazilian National Champion and five-time World Champion in jiu-jitsu. His losses are to former WEC bantamweight champ Brian Bowles and home-run slugger Damacio Page by TKO and undefeated prospect Akitoshi Hokazono by decision. He drew with former Shooto 132-pound champion Masakatsu Ueda, who holds wins over Akitoshi Tamura (another Shooto champ and former WEC and Sengoku fighter) and Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto.
Galvao topped the well-traveled Kenji Osawa (former WEC and Shooto fighter who once finished the UFC's Takeya Mizugaki with strikes and just beat Yoshiro Maeda in DREAM), Naoya Uematsu (featherweight with a win over Caol Uno and experience against Jens Pulver, Gilbert Melendez, and Urijah Faber in losing efforts), and Gracie Barra's Fredson Paixao (WEC-UFC featherweight with wins over Rani Yahya, Masakazu Imanari, and welterweight Thomas Denny). This should imply that Galvao comes from one of the best teams, has a resplendent grappling pedigree, and has scrapped with some stout competition.
Free Movement / Striking Phase
I chose the animation on the left because it shows a little bit of everything that Galvao offers on the feet. At 3:51, we see the ill advised straight-line retreat with Bowles in pursuit, but Galvao is wary enough to flick a solid left counter into the mix. During the pause at 3:48, check his quick reactions when Bowles fakes a level drop, and Galvao threatens to plaster him with a quick upward knee, which could come in handy against an opponent like Warren that also shoots from outside.
At 3:45, Galvao counters with the short elbow in close quarters; something uncharacteristic for a decorated submissionist. At 3:42, he charges with the kind of flurry that isn't pretty, but requires the full attention of his opponent. Just as this wild exchange leaves him exposed, he concludes with a leaping knee that's been known to catch wrestlers when their instincts take over and they drop levels to defend a charging striker.
He stands upright, most likely because his world-class BJJ awaits on the mat.
Each have shown a dependable chin with a remarkable ability to recover quickly. As is the overall theme with this fight, Warren represents the safe and steady choice, but Galvao exudes the type of unbridled aggression and dicey bravado that often fosters unforeseen timing and angles, and Warren's defense has been breached with strikes in his last two fights.
Advantage: Warren (slight)