Bowles landed a great combination in the first minute of the first round, knocking Ribeiro back and establishing control of the fight early. But Ribeiro kept coming, landing some solid punches and one great kick, and for three-plus minutes it was a stand-up battle. Late in the first round they went to the ground and Bowles nearly choked Ribeiro out with a guillotine, but Ribeiro managed to escape.
In the second round Ribeiro discovered that he could kick Bowles effectively -- until Bowles caught one of Ribeiro's kicks and brought him to the ground. They stayed on the ground for most of the second round, with Bowles controlling the action but not doing a lot of damage.
Early in the third round, Ribeiro shot on Bowles, and Bowles responded by putting Ribeiro in a tight guillotine, forcing Ribeiro to tap.
The win establishes Bowles as a clear No. 1 contender in the WEC's bantamweight division. He's likely to get the next chance against the winner of tonight's main event between champion Miguel Torres and challenger Manny Tapia.
"I think I've earned a title shot," Bowles said afterward. "I'd love to fight the winner."
The 28-year-old Bowles improved his professional MMA record to 7-0. Ribeiro fell to 10-2.