There are a lot of people hoping to one day see the trilogy fight between UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. Well, don’t count Brian Bowles among them.
The former WEC bantamweight champion has his own score to settle with Cruz, who is the fighter he lost the belt to in March 2010.
After recovering from a seriously injured hand that caused the end of his fight with Cruz, Bowles has bounced back with two consecutive wins and thought he might be on a collision course with the champion at that point.
Instead, Bowles got matched up with former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber at UFC 139.
“I was wanting to fight Cruz next, but it wasn’t really a disappointment,” Bowles said during a recent appearance on MMAWeekly Radio.
“It was just like ‘okay, I’ve got to fight Faber now.’ There’s pros and cons both to fight Faber. He’s the most popular guy in the weight class, fighting him is going to bring recognition to me, and we’re considered both the No. 1 contenders. Then, the winner of us has to fight for the belt next, no question.”
It’s not very often that fighting a challenger can actually get you more recognition than fighting the champion, but Bowles believes that’s what he’s walking into. Faber is one of the biggest stars in all of MMA, but make no mistake Bowles wants the title back he gets to kill two birds with one stone on Saturday night.
“Right now, just because Faber is more popular, a win over him in just the average fan’s eyes would be bigger than a win over Cruz,” said Bowles. “But the true hardcore MMA fans and other fighters are going to know that having the belt is what’s really most important. For me and for most other fighters.”
Heading into the fight with Faber, Bowles is coming in as an underdog, something he hasn’t faced since the time he captured the WEC bantamweight title.
Bowles was seen as a decided underdog when facing then champion Miguel Torres in the WEC. What resulted was Bowles knocking Torres out in the first round to claim the belt.
Bowles sees a parallel in this fight with Faber, and he’s hoping for similar results.
“He’s like Miguel Torres. I come in as a huge underdog, everyone expects me to lose, but those are the fights that I perform best in. I kind of like being the underdog,” Bowles said.
If all goes well for Bowles and he’s victorious, he will undoubtedly get the next crack at Dominick Cruz and the UFC bantamweight title in 2012.
For all the talk about Faber vs. Cruz 3, Bowles is really hoping to settle his own score with the 135-pound champion. He’s ready to hear people discussing Cruz vs. Bowles 2 instead.
“I feel like I’m the only person left that he hasn’t beat that could be the question on his career,” Bowles said. “He’s already beat Faber, he’s beat everybody else, so if I was him I’d be wanting to fight me. I definitely want to go back in there and come in healthy and just be able to perform this time and not be injured, and break my hand, and a lot of things just didn’t work out for that fight.”
Bowles will get the chance to earn that title shot if he can take are of Urijah Faber on Saturday night in San Jose.