UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The mystery of Joe Warren being pulled from his bantamweight semifinals tournament bout against Nick Kirk played into fight night at Bellator 98.
Warren was to make his 135-pound debut after his stint coaching on Spike TV's "Fight Master" reality series. Just days before the bout was to happen, the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulations deemed Warren unfit to compete after "reviewing the medical documentation submitted."
MMA Fighting was told from a source close to the commission on Saturday night that Warren was "knocked out while sparring," and that is "100 percent the reason he was pulled from the card." This prompted the Tribe's commissioner Mike Mazzulli to pull the plug on the bout upon seeing the medical report. The source said that he only learned of the situation on Wednesday, meaning the incident happened fairly close to the fight.
Bellator's CEO and founder Bjorn Rebney wouldn't go so far as to say the reason out of respect for Warren, but did say the former featherweight champion could be cleared in a couple of weeks.
"What [Mazzulli] did was, out of respect for Joe and for how long Joe had been prepping in Albuquerque with Greg [Jackson], Mike allowed Joe not just to get bounced out because of the medical results from the initial doctor," Rebney told MMA Fighting. "He allowed Joe to get back and go to a specialist and then see if those tests would clear him at the higher, more involved level of testing. And they almost did.
"What I can tell you is, the specialist who tested him in Denver said, look, if it were my son I wouldn't approve it. But there are circumstances that would cause me to approve it if you can wait three or four weeks and we can do the tests again That'll answer any questions, and we'll be 100 percent. And [Mazzulli] said, if we're not 100 percent we're not allowed to go.
"My assumption, and Mike's assumption, is that within two to three weeks Mike will be able to take him off of suspension, so long as everything comes back clean."
Warren has been the victim of a couple of vicious knockouts in the recent past, including the Bellator 60 loss to Pat Curran when he squandered the belt. He has since rebounded for a win over Owen Evinger at Bellator 80.