Former bantamweight champion continues climb back to contention
The first time Brian Bowles fought Damacio Page, he earned an emphatic first round submission victory over the Greg Jackson student to put himself on the map. Two fights later, Bowles was standing challenging Miguel Torres for the bantamweight championship.
After winning and losing the 135 pound title, Bowles returned from a one-year hiatus to once again face the man known as “The Angel of Death.” The results were eerily similar, and have Bowles hoping that this creepy coincidence is the start of his journey down a familiar path.
If you simply heard tell of Bowles’ two fights with Page, you’d think the storyteller was taking some artistic license with the tale. But when you pull up his record and check for yourself, you see why Bowles would like to think a pattern is emerging.
Both times they fought, Bowles submitted Page by guillotine choke at exactly 3:30 of the opening round. For added measure, he took home the Submission of the Night bonus both times as well.
Bowles broke from the pattern in his return to the cage against Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 132 this weekend. It was exactly four months between his first fight with Page and his follow-up win over Will Ribeiro; this time he’s back in the cage a day early.
Chances are Bowles doesn’t mind breaking the chain of similarities though. After all, the first time may have produced a championship win, but it also ended up with him losing the belt in his very first title defense.
The landscape of the UFC’s lightest division has changed considerably as well. While a couple solid victories used to be enough to propel a fighter into a championship pairing, it’s going to take more than a second consecutive victory for Bowles to return to the main event.
While Mizugaki is a talented and dangerous opponent — he’s ranked in the top 10 most everywhere you look — fighters like Demetrious Johnson, Renan Barao and Michael McDonald have all been making their cases as contenders as well. It doesn’t help Bowles’ case that while that trio (and others) were out earning wins, he was sitting on the sidelines working his way back from injury for almost a year.
His second fight with Page was the first action Bowles had seen in 362 days. After breaking his hand during his title fight with Dominick Cruz, Bowles was slated to return in November 2010, but was forced out of the bout with a foot injury.
Now that he’s finally healthy and has a win under his belt, the time has come for the former champion to start reminding people of his championship pedigree.
Though his time on the sidelines and the relative newness of the bantamweight division’s inclusion in the UFC might have Bowles positioned as a lesser known commodity right now, a return to his pre-injury winning ways would change that in a hurry.
Bowles has finished all nine of his opponents; three by knockout and six by submission. Just one foe has made it out of the second round; Ribeiro, and he was submitted 71 seconds into the third.
Though he looks like a floppy-haired student who cheers on the Georgia Bulldogs every Saturday in the fall instead of someone who fights for a living, make no mistake about it: Bowles is a beast when the cage door closes. He’ll be out to prove that again on Saturday night against Mizugaki.
And just in case the crazy coincidence of his second victory over Page has got the former champion feeling a little superstitious, there’s a pattern at play this time around too: in his six fights since joining the WEC, Mizugaki has alternated wins and losses, and he’s coming in off a win.
Just because you may not believe in superstition doesn’t mean it isn’t nice to have them on your side.