Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brian Bowles: Shouldn't We Wait for the Encore?

When Matt Serra dropped Georges St-Pierre to capture the UFC Welterweight title, very few people in the MMA community would have thrown the veteran fighter into their Pound-for-Pound discussions or considered him the best welterweight in the world.

So what makes Brian Bowles any different at this very moment?

Not to diminish his victory or take away from the accomplishment of handing Miguel Torres just his second career defeat, but since when does one win make you the best fighter in a division and an instant addition to the Top 10 Pound-for-Pound fighters in the world?

I ask this question based on the Bantamweight and Pound-for-Pound rankings of Fanhouse's Michael David Smith, both of which have come out following Bowles' shocking upset of Torres.

One knock against Serra that certainly doesn't apply to Bowles is a journeyman career and a record checkered by losses. While Bowles is unblemished and earned his shot at the belt by working his way up the ranks, Serra got there by winning TUF 4, a season designed at giving falling fighters a second chance.

But both made the most of their opportunity, regardless of how they got there, so why the drastically different views?

We've seen time and again that almost anyone can be beaten with a well-time, well-placed punch, champion or challenger, contender or pretender.

Bowles caught Torres like Serra caught GSP, and both had their hand raised and a title belt wrapped around their waist.

While Serra was immediately viewed as a very weak champion, Bowles is being elevated to illustrious status by Smith when just 48 hours ago I would wager he wasn't in the Pound-for-Pound Top 20.

For me, being the best in a division and one of the Pound-for-Pound best in the world is a cumulative thing, not something that changes in one fight.

Is Bowles now part of the Pound-for-Pounbd discussion? Absolutely, but regardless of his win, he still doesn't rank above Torres in my books, nor is he remotely close to the level of those universally accepted as being on such a list like Anderson Silva, Fedor and Lyoto Machida.

The UFC Light Heavyweight champion is actually another strong comparison to the new WEC Bantamweight champ.

As soon as Machida defeated Rashad Evans to become champion, people were proclaiming the dawn of The Machida Era, as if no one would ever be able to defeat the Brazilian Samurai.

While his unblemished record and march to the top without losing a round in the UFC are extremely impressive, should a champion not string together some title defenses before we build statues in his honor?

How's about one defense?

The same goes for Brian Bowles.

Sunday night's result showed us many things.

It reminded us that "Anything Can Happen" is a fitting motto for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

We learned that Miguel Torres is human after all and can be knocked out like everyone else.

And we learned that Brian Bowles is the complete package, a serious talent at 135 and the new Bantamweight champion.

But 18 months ago we learned very similar things from the Matt Serra - Georges St-Pierre fight.

Instead of immediately christening Bowles the best in the division and one of the best in the world, why can't we just let him be an outstanding story, the WEC Bantamweight champion and wait and see what he does for an encore?

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