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Justin Wren hopes to parlay a future Bellator title run into more aid for the Congo

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David St. Martin, MMA Fighting

TEMECULA, Calif. -- Given his five-year layoff from fighting, Justin Wren can't help but find the silver lining in an underwhelming debut performance at Bellator 141.

Wren scored a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) over heavyweight veteran Josh Burns, who now falls to 0-6 in his stint with the promotion.

Wren spent much of the time away from MMA in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working to provide clean water for his adopted family, a community of oppressed Pygmies.

An ethnic group indigenous to Africa, Pygmies in the Congo are preyed upon like animals by armed rebels, who kill them, rape their women and eat them.

The win wasn't a barnburner, but Wren says he's keeping the bigger picture in mind.

"I would say the experience was very positive," Wren told media post-fight," I got the W. I didn't get the win like I wanted, but at the same time it's five years and two months since my last fight. I'm very excited to get the win because I did exactly what I wanted to do.

"It's been such a great reception from people. It's awesome. I'm going to be able to do so much more in the Congo because of this fight."

SPIKE TV might not be available in the Congo's jungles, but Wren says his crew in Africa is working to relay footage back the Pygmies.

"It was one of the most awesome things," said Wren. "The director of implementation for Water4 was here tonight. He was sending one-minute clips with WhatsApp to our well-drilling team of 17 guys. At 3:30 in the morning, everyone was watching the fight. We got video back of them celebrating and crying. They were so happy. They're going to take that into the forest to my Pygmy family and I wish I was there to do the dancing with them."

Wren made his altruistic motivations for fighting clear, but insists he's recommitted himself to the sport.

"I'm back," said Wren. "I'm back and I'm going to do it until I feel like I'm done. After this fight I know some people might say, 'Oh, I don't know if he's in Bellator title fight contention,' but I want to get there. I want to chase that down because with a bigger platform more people pay attention to what's important. Obviously, fighting is important, it's one of my greatest passions, but what I'm doing outside of fighting is so much more important.

"If I can use this platform to go for another five to seven years? In seven years, I'll be 35. Look at the top guys in the world. They're 33, 35, 37. I've got time. Maybe these next two, three years I really need to fine-tune things and get better. Then I can make a run."

Wren says he struggled with a loss of identity when he stopped fighting, but seems to have finally struck a balance.

"That was my identity, my purpose, my significance" Wren said of fighting. "It was where I found my value. But once I found a greater purpose I said, 'You know what? Fighting's not that important.' But it's my passion, I love it. So now, I don't have to do one or the other like I thought. I can do both. By doing both, we can do more and make more of an impact for the Congo."