The curious case of the Brian Bowles stoppage. I don’t know if I’m the only one that tasted something funky in the Kool-Aid this past Saturday evening during the main event of WEC 47 at the conclusion of the second round between Bowles and Dominick Cruz when we returned from commercial break to realize that the fight had been called off. Not only had the fight been called to a screeching halt with Bowles’ championship strap being placed neatly in the hands of Dominick Cruz, but it seemed eerily as if Bowles was at peace with it. Pulver comes to tears following every loss, and while I didn’t expect Brian to be snivelling; I guess I was expecting something more than what I saw.
I’m not doubting for one second that Bowles broke his hand in the bout with Cruz, but the fact that Dominick was completely dominating the fight from point A to point B made the stoppage seem suspect for a couple different reasons…
A) Bowles has had a long history of breaking the right hand that he broke once again in the bout with Cruz at WEC 47. He had broken it previous to his championship winning knockout over Miguel Torres, as well as in the bout with Torres. I’m sure he knew in the back of his mind that he had broke the hand once again, but there’s no way for the doctor to know unless the glove is removed and the hand is thoroughly examined. Basically, the only way a doctor is going to know you broke your hand is if you tell him, ‘Yo, I think I just broke my hand’.
B) Even if the doctor somehow realized that the hand was broken through Superman x-ray vision, I can’t remember many cases where a fighter was not allowed to continue because he broke ONE of his hands; Particularly a champion defending his title. One fight that continues to stick out in my memory when thinking of how the Bowles vs. Cruz fight went down is the second fight between Mike Brown and Urijah Faber. You know, the fight where it was obvious to everyone watching that Faber had rendered one of his hands useless with at least three rounds left in the bout, which he finished. Faber wasn’t going to let a broken hand stop him. He had his other hand (sorta), and in his mind, he had other ways to win the fight. While Faber may not have a title strapped to his waist currently, I think we can all agree that “grit” is a characteristic that champions are made of. That “Cut me, Mick” approach to fighting that forges title holders out of contenders.
One of the greatest quotes in the history of mixed martial arts came when Georges St. Pierre returned to his corner following the third round of his UFC 100 title defense against Thiago Alves to inform Greg Jackson that he had pulled his groin.
“Well then hit him with your groin,” barked Jackson, and that’s exactly what GSP did.
C) I’ve been seeing a lot of people comment on the possibility that Bowles may not have given the hand enough time to recover, and while I’m no doctor, I have to wonder how long the hand would need to be “properly healed”. Bowles had a solid eight months off after his fight with Torres, so I’d imagine he may need at least a year or more before his next outing to properly heal an injury that possibly can’t be healed any more than it was going into the Cruz fight.
The growing value of footwork. It’s absolutely mind blowing to have something as basic as good footwork let you know that the sport is still in it’s very early stages at the core. Dominick Cruz switching angles on Brian Bowles and hopping around the ring like a dancing Energizer Bunny completely threw Bowles off his game and seemed to suck the fight right out of him. The best boxers in the history of the sweet science have used finely tuned footwork to their advantage for ages now, while fighters such as Cruz and Lyoto Machida continue to confirm the value of the fighting fundamental on the current MMA landscape.
Were we giving Torres too much credit? Now, I’m not taking anything away from Torres or his accomplishments in the sport – the dude is bonafide – but was Torres the top ten pound for pound fighter many had him regarded as (including myself) before the defeat to Brian Bowles? In my opinion a lot of it had to do with the insane looking 37-1 record Miguel sported going into the fight with Brian, but realistically Torres only had five fights against legit challengers at 135 pounds before the fight with Bowles; the five fights that Miguel had fought in the WEC against the likes of Jeff Bedard (3-2 in his next five), Chase Beebe (has not seen a victory in the four fights following the loss to Torres), Yosihiro Maeda (26-7-2 career record with a 3-2 record following Torres bout), Manny Tapia (0-4 in his last four) and Takeya Mazugaki (12-4-2 career record and recently lost to Scott Jorgensen). So who had Torres fought before being knocked out by Bowles and submitted by Joseph Benavidez at WEC 47? Some tough dudes, sure, but nobody to justify a top ten pound for pound ranking. As it sits now, the reality is that it would be hard to rank Torres much higher than fourth in the WEC’s bantamweight division that he used to rule with an iron-fist and tricky rubber guard; with Cruz, Benavidez and Bowles all laying claim to spots above Miguel for obvious reasons. As a matter of fact, I could definitely hear an argument where Scott Jorgensen bumps Torres to the fifth position.
Should Torres move up in weight? He is obviously a phenomenally talented and gifted fighter, which has served him well throughout much of his career, but Miguel’s lanky frame puts him at a decisive disadvantage against the explosive weight-cutters that dominate the division currently. I mean, Benavidez was yanking out of Torres’ submission attempts the way I do when my girlfriend tries to put me in an armbar. And you can forget about Torres dragging a wrestler like Bowles, Benavidez or Cruz to the canvas anytime soon, so if he remains at 135 pounds he will have to play the kickboxing role against the more powerful wrestlers. I feel like adding some healthy muscle onto Torres’ bones through heavy lifting and supplements could serve to make the naturally gifted fighter a bigger threat at 145, or even 155 pounds, than he ever was at bantamweight.
No way Jose. I found it extremely odd that the WEC paid to have Urijah Faber and Donald Cerrone fly out to the event to make an appearance plugging the upcoming WEC pay-per-view, yet champions Jose Aldo and Benson Henderson were nowhere to be seen. It’s no secret that the uber-popular Faber and Cerrone of TapouT fame are the more marketable fighters of the four, but Faber and Cerrone haven’t earned the right to be called champions either. That’s the downside of promoting fights in many cases: Just because you want a certain fighter to win and make you an abundance of cash is no guarantee that the said fighter will win the fights necessary to milk that cash cow.
There’s no crying in baseball, and there shouldn’t be much in MMA either. I’m a huge Jens Pulver fan like I know a lot of people are, but the one thing I dread more than the very realistic possibility of Jens suffering another defeat inside of the cage, is the ultra-emotional Pulver interview that follows that has become a trademark of the “Lil Evil” mystique. I think I’ll remember Jens breaking down in post-fight interviews more than any other moment of Pulver’s career many years from now when it’s all said and done, and that’s a shame. It’s hard not to route for Pulver, and with that being said, it’s hard not to route for Pulver to do the right thing in this situation either.
Early worst fight of the year candidate. L.C. Davis and Deividas Taurosevicius took part in what could easily be described as one of the hardest to watch bouts in recent memory, and what made it worse is that Davis apologized for not being exciting following the bout. He had fifteen minutes to show the fans why they should be interested in seeing him fight again, and instead chose to partake in a scratch and sniff clinch fest with Taurosevicius that completely killed any type of momentum the previous bout between Bart Paleczweski and Karen Darebedyan had built up. I, for one, am tired of fighters saying all of the right things before and after the bout, yet doing just enough to squeak by with a close victory when the rubber meets the asphalt. Whether you win or lose, make us remember you, and give us a reason to want to watch you fight again. Do you think anyone doesn’t want to see Melvin Manhoef fight again because he was knocked out by Robbie Lawler?