MMAFrenzy continues its coverage of UFC 139 with our preview of a bantamweight bout between Urijah Faber and Brian Bowles. Stay tuned to MMAFrenzy as we breakdown each fight on the UFC 139 main card leading up to the main event between Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Dan Henderson and former UFC light-heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Urijah Faber vs. Brian Bowles
Keys for Faber (BR) – We are in quite a pickle with the bantamweight division right now. Dominick Cruz is seemingly waiting on his next opponent…to face again. He has already defeated many top challengers, including Faber, Bowles, Joseph Benavidez (twice), and most recently Demetrious Johnson.
That leaves us with a possible number one contender bout in Bowles taking on Faber. Both are former champions, both have lost to Cruz recently. Both have the opportunity to challenge Cruz again.
The circumstances between the two are quite different. Faber, while he has a win over Cruz, he has a full five round loss to him as well. Bowles does not have a victory, but in his loss he was unable to continue in the fight with Cruz due to a broken hand suffered in the second round.
That brings us to Saturday, where the two will square off to decide who will have their rematch with Cruz.
Faber, a legend of the smaller weight classes, is just 4-4 in his last eight fights. Those losses all came in championship fights, to Mike Brown (twice), Jose Aldo, and most recently, Dominick Cruz. Only one of those fights did not go the entire 25 minutes, though.
The Californian still holds a strong wrestling pedigree, and his striking is still above most in the division. In Bowles, he fights an opponent who also has a strong wrestling background, but is very willing to keep the fight on his feet and use strong striking to set up takedowns. Sound familiar?
With how even the pair’s styles and strengths are, the smaller intricacies will be noticeable during this fight. Faber possesses a speed advantage over nearly every other fighter in the division. That will be the case against Bowles, who tends to counterattack more than create his own opportunities.
Another factor is Faber’s size. Bowles is not a small bantamweight, so he rarely fights guys of similar size and strength. His most recent opponents like Takeya Mizugaki and Damacio Page are significantly smaller. Faber is a stronger fighter, especially in his upper body. If he can take the fight to the ground, Faber should be able to outmuscle Bowles
Keys for Bowles (Chris Leslie) – Brian Bowles originally shot to fame when he defeated former pound-for-pound candidate Miguel Torres. The dream ride ended quickly however as Bowles lost his first title defense to then-WEC champion Dominick Cruz. Bowles has been aiming for a rematch ever since that night and if he takes out Faber he gets a shot to redeem his only loss.
Bowles is a strong overall fighter with few holes that are not tied to the fragility of his hands. Fighting Faber presents challenges that few bantamweights possess with his fast paced style. Faber’s ability to change angles and attack from unorthodox positions creates a specific problem to Bowles as it can mean his fists can land at the wrong angle, leading to another broken hand.
Bowles needs to stalk Faber against the fence and use his strikes to slow down the “California Kid.” If Bowles can keep Faber trapped, he can pressure him into making mistakes and keep Faber from using his wrestling by keeping from setting his feet.
Bowles has a good submission game but that may not come into play as Faber has never been submitted. That does not mean that he cannot rock Faber and then finish him with choke after Faber shoot, just makes it less likely. Bowles best chance to win is simply to keep this fight vertical. While Bowles is not a bad wrestler by any means, Faber is better at it and it could leave Bowles over-extended.
The longer this fight stays standing, the more Bowles chance of winning increase.