Brian Bowles is hungry. The former WEC bantamweight champion has not been fed an opponent since losing his title to the current champion, Dominick Cruz, at WEC 47. In that fight, doctor’s stepped in and put a stop to the action before the beginning of the third round due to a broken hand sustained by Bowles. As a result, he lost his bantamweight crown and has been forced to the sidelines for almost exactly a year.
In that time, he attempted making a return against Wagnney Fabiano in November, but was forced to pull out of that fight due to more injury trouble.
The injury bug took its toll on Bowles, requiring surgery to repair his broken hand and inserting a pin as part of the recovery.H e has been on the injured list for long enough and will make his official return on Thursday night at UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann in Louisville, Ky.
Bowles takes little time in worrying about ring rust, if any. He does not seem shaken by the fact that it has been 12 months since he last competed. The confidence is obvious in a conversation with the former WEC titleholder, as he explains that he is capable of exciting things and is out to entertain the crowd. A year is a long time to be away from a job, so Bowles wants to ensure those who knew of his work before that he is still a force in the 135-pound division.
“I’ve been out a while,” he said on MMAWeekly Radio. “I want to remind people, I’m an exciting fighter, I finish people, and I’m good.”
He is good and there is no doubt about that.
Bowles is 8-1 in his mixed martial arts career, with the only loss coming at the hands of a champion. Prior to his loss to Cruz, the Athens, Ga. resident finished all eight of his opponents by either submission or knockout – wins that include Miguel Torres and Will Ribeiro.
Bowles also has a win over Thursday’s opponent, Damacio Page. The two met at WEC 35, but didn’t get to know each other very well. Bowles finished him early in the fight by guillotine choke. With his experience against Page, it appears that Bowles’ UFC on Versus fight will be business as usual and fans should expect excitement in the Octagon. According to Bowles, this is the type of pleasure fans can get from the deep and talent-rich UFC bantamweight division.
“There (are) a lot of us guys that are right there neck and neck,” Bowles said about the UFC’s 135-pounders. “You got (Urijah) Faber, me, Joseph (Benavidez), Demetrius (Johnson); all of us I think are right there.
“We’re all exciting fighters. I think we’d all mix it up well.”
Beyond the bout in Louisville, one fighter stays in the back of Brian Bowles’ mind – that fighter is Dominick Cruz. As the owner of Bowles’ only loss, Cruz can say he has done something that eight other men have failed to do. Something like this could linger in one’s mind and remain on the radar.
According to Bowles, the current bantamweight champion has found ways to win, but he lacks the entertainment value necessary in the sport of mixed martial arts.
“He’s got the belt. He’s always going to be on my radar,” he said. “He goes out there and pulls off the wins and (it is) never really that exciting of a fight. That’s nothing I really want to watch, but he’s found a way to win and he just does what he does.”
If Brian Bowles can get past Damacio Page one more time, he could put himself in line to, one day, fight Dominick Cruz again. He will take his first step towards that direction in Kentucky this Thursday.