Joe Warren (Photo/Bellator)
Former amateur wrestlers went three-for-three at Bellator 181 as Joe Warren, Logan Storley and Romero Cotton all came out victors at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. Friday night.
Warren, a Greco-Roman mat star and long-time MMA veteran, earned a unanimous decision over Steve Garcia ... while Storley, a four-time NCAA All-American at University of Minnesota, made short work of Kemmyelle Haley with a first-round TKO, and Cotton, three-time NCAA Division II champ at University of Nebraska -- Kearney, got a split decision over Aaron Rodriguez.
The 40-year-old Warren -- a former bantamweight and featherweight champ -- opened the main card action in a 135-pound vs. Steve Garcia. Warren used his extensive wrestling experience in the early rounds over the younger Garcia to score a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in the three-round bout. Warren, a Pan-Am and World Greco champ, is now 14-6 in his nine-year pro career, while Garcia falls to 7-2.
Storley, who has been competing in pro MMA events in his native South Dakota for the past two years, took a step up with his first Bellator bout, taking on Haley, who hadn't had a pro bout in five years. Storley's impressive amateur wrestling background served him well as the former Gopher took down Haley with a single leg ... then pounded his opponent with elbows, getting a TKO at 1:44 in the first round of the 170-pound bout scheduled for three rounds. Storley's Bellator debut lifts the 24-year-old's pro MMA record to 6-0, with Haley dropping to 7-5.
Cotton made his pro MMA debut at the Bellator 181, getting a split decision over Aaron Rodriguez, who was also appearing in his first pro MMA bout. While Sherdog.com staff scored all three rounds for the 170-pound bout for the former Nebraska-Kearney, actual Bellator judges scored it 30-27, 27-30, 29-28 for Cotton. The 26-year-old Cotton, who signed with Bellator in November 2016, is now 1-0 while Rodriguez is 0-1.
In preliminary card action at welterweight, E.J. Brooks - a NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) champ at Lincoln College in Illinois who went on to wrestle at University of Missouri - won a unanimous decision over Guilherme Vasconcelos, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.