When fighting Urijah Faber, there's a pretty good chance the opponent is an afterthought, since Faber is one of the most popular fighters in the sport, and the fans assume he will roll to victory.
Brian Bowles (10-1, 2-0 UFC) is under that assumption as well, as the former WEC Bantamweight Champion will square off with Faber (25-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC), the former WEC Featherweight Champion, at UFC 139 this Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California on pay per view starting at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT.
Bowles and Faber each fought last at UFC 132, in which Bowles defeated Takeya Mizugaki via unanimous decision, and Faber lost via unanimous decision to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
A lot of people thought a good performance by Bowles would have netted him the next shot against Cruz, but after a lackluster win against Mizugaki, Demetrious Johnson ended up getting the next shot.
Bowles understood why he didn't get the shot after the Mizugaki fight.
"I wasn't able to finish," Bowles told me. "I wasn't very aggressive; he's a tough guy.
"I mean, he has that kind of style. He's not easy to finish, and he's a tough opponent. We both went in there, and if either one of us had been more aggressive, the fight would have been a lot more exciting," he said.
"I think he was waiting for me to be a little more aggressive and I was kinda waiting for him to be more aggressive," Bowles continued. "We ended up just standing there looking at each other a lot more than my fights usually are."
The Bowles-Mizugaki fight was on the undercard of UFC 132, so Bowles was able to take in the Cruz-Faber main event that evening and wasn't shocked by the champion's performance against Faber.
"Typical Cruz, you know." Bowles said. "He does what he does. Faber did a pretty good job getting his hands on him and not getting too frustrated at what he does. Every time you watch the champion fight, you learn a little bit from that. I took a little bit away from that."
With the title loss, Faber is now 4-4 in his last eight fights, but Bowles thinks Faber still has that mystique about him.
"Once you built something like that, it takes a lot for it to go away. I don't think he's lost it yet," Bowles said. "Just because you lose a fight or two here and there? He's not out there getting knocked out. He's not like at the end of his career, he needs to hang it up or he's just hanging onto it because he can't let it go.
"He's still a No. 1-guy contender. He could be champ at any moment," he said.
As soon as this fight was announced, a lot of people were under the assumption that it would determine the No. 1 contender for the bantamweight title, and Bowles is under that assumption as well.
"Yea, I think (UFC president) Dana (White) announced that the winner between me and him should be fighting Cruz," Bowles said. "I know they never set anything in stone, but its been said. But that's what I'm expecting from it."
Since Faber-Cruz II took place and the fight with Bowles was announced, a lot of people think that Faber will roll past Bowles and secure the rubber match.
Bowles has other plans in mind and relishes the role of the underdog.
"You know, I'm kinda used to that. I've been a underdog in almost every fight," Bowles said. "When I fought Miguel (Torres), underdog; ever since I've come into the sport, its been the underdog for me. I kind of feed off that.
"I think true hardcore fans, the other fighters know he's not gonna walk through me. I've heard a lot of people say they think I'm going to beat him.
"It's mainly the people, average Joes out there. He's the more popular guy. That's what they go on. They think it's a popularity contest and not a fight. That's what they're going by. Not going by fighting skills," Bowles said.
"I'm a quiet guy. He's out there; his face is out there. He's more popular, so they think he's gonna win," he said.
You can listen to the entire interview with Brian Bowles here.
You can follow me on Twitter @fightclubchi.
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