For the opening five minutes of Thursday's Bellator 27 main event, the self-described "baddest man on the planet" looked like anything but.
Then came round two.
After getting tagged throughout the first round with lead left hands and nasty right uppercuts, Joe Warren (6-1 MMA, 4-0 BFC) uncorked a powerful barrage of strikes that left former champion Joe Soto (9-1 MMA, 4-1 BFC) unconscious on the floor.
The extraordinary comeback served as the headlining contest for Thursday's FOX Sports Net-broadcast Bellator 27 event, which took place at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas.
While Warren and Soto are both accomplished wrestlers, it was Soto's striking that dominated the early frame. Warren, the season-two tournament winner, appeared wobbled on several occasions and simply overmatched.
But the second round took a decided turn. Warren landed a right hand that sent Soto to the canvas in the opening seconds of the frame. Warren followed with a rapid-fire ground-and-pound assault, but Soto courageously worked his way back to the feet.
He might have been better staying down.
Warren uncorked a huge knee that dropped Soto. Warren landed another punch for good measure as Soto slumped to the canvas, and a few more shots came on the ground, but the former champion's fate was already sealed. Just 33 seconds into the second round, Warren had claimed the belt.
"You can't stop me," Warren said after the fight. "I'm the baddest man on the planet."
Joe Warren def. Joe Soto via knockout (strikes) - Round 2, 0:33 (to become new featherweight champion)
Zach Makovsky def. Nick Mamalis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)#
Ed West def. Bryan Goldsby via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)#
OFFICIAL PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS
Gilbert Jimenez def. Aaron Barringer via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)*
Richard Odoms def. Dale Mitchell via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)*
Andrew Craig def. Rodrigo Pinheiro via TKO (doctor's stoppage due to cut) - Round 3, 2:53*
Andrew Chappelle def. Joe Christopher via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)*
Ulysses Gomez def. Travis Reddinger via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)#
Jon Kirk def. Shane Faulkner via TKO (strikes) - Round 3, 2:19
Steven Peterson def. Ernest De La Cruz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
#- Bellator 135 pound tourney opening bout
i was hoping to see warren take the title. dana white should be trying get that dude to fight for the WEC or whoever actually gets those fighters. warren is a terror. doesnt have that many fights either.