SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Brian Bowles freely admits that whatever “it” is, he doesn’t have it.
Charisma, charm, mass appeal. Whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t come naturally to Bowles.
His reserved personality has been forced to the forefront this week, the situation only exacerbated because he’s fighting Urijah Faber on Saturday at UFC 139. While Faber is pound-for-pound one of the most outgoing characters in MMA -- his entire persona exuding a kind of laid-back California cool -- Bowles is the exact opposite.
Where Faber is gregarious, Bowles is quiet. Where Faber is over the top, Bowles is understated. Where Faber is one of the most popular figures in the sport, Bowles is perhaps one of the most under the radar.
And you know what? He’s OK with that.
“Some people are going to be popular and some people aren’t,” Bowles said in San Jose this week. “Some people are just gifted with that. He’s like the cool kid in school. You don’t know why he’s cool, but he is. I happen to not have it. Some people have it. Faber has it.”
One thing Bowles has had that Faber has not, of course, is the bantamweight championship. Yet somehow, despite the fact Bowles dealt Miguel Torres his first loss in six years at WEC 42, snapping his 17-fight win streak with a first-round KO and thrusting Torres’ career into a period of uncertainty he’s still trying to work out of, nobody seems to remember that.
Part of that is because Bowles refuses to run around shouting about it. Another part is that his reign on top was short, lasting just seven months before he was forced to concede the title to Dominick Cruz, bowing out of their fight at WEC 47 with a broken hand. It doesn’t help either that he had to spend a year on shelf nursing that injury and that while we was out, the WEC was absorbed into the much larger landscape of the UFC.
Bowles has won two straight fights so far in the Octagon, but seems at peace with the idea the few people yet know his name. He knows that will change so long as he can keep winning.
“I do feel overlooked ...,” Bowles said. "But I’m just now building up my momentum."
He gets his best chance yet to kick start that momentum this weekend, along with the chance earn another shot at Cruz and the UFC 135-pound title.
Bowles enters this bout as a bit more than a 2-1 underdog and Faber’s wrestling prowess arguably makes it a tough matchup for him. Despite the long odds however, he hopes to emerge from UFC 139 as the No. 1 contender and, he said, maybe even a little bit more popular.
“I look at this fight like it’s a chance for me to shine,” Bowles said. “He’s a popular guy. Fighting him is going to bring me fans either way, as long as I go out there and put on a [good] performance.”