That time, he was correct, and the injury knocked him out of action for an entire year. This time, he wasn't. Bowles fought on against Takeya Mizugaki and earned a unanimous decision. Then on Tuesday, he found out that his right hand left the fight intact.
Bowles' manager Andrew F. Beach confirmed to MMA Fighting that the fighter's injuries were not as severe as originally believed.
"It's not broken," he said. "There is some injury as anyone could tell from the swelling that followed, but the big thing was it's not broken, so whatever it is shouldn't keep him out for long."
Bowles didn't see a doctor until returning home from Las Vegas, and waiting for the swelling to partially subside.
The win was Bowles' second straight since returning from his previous injury. Prior to UFC 132, he defeated Damacio Page via guillotine choke submission.
Now 10-1, Bowles and his team hope that the back-to-back wins will move him to the front of the line, and a rematch with Cruz, where they believe there is still unfinished business. While some believe Demetrious Johnson -- ironically, also 10-1 -- is a more deserving candidate, Beach cites historical precedent as to why Bowles should get the title match opportunity.
"My position is, I don't even understand really why there is a question," he said. "When you go back and look at what's happened in UFC and WEC, whenever the champ lost, he got a rematch within a fight or two, as long as he's winning. Look back at Bowles' record up until he faced Cruz. That fight ended with a broken hand. History has kind of rewritten itself that Cruz finished it. But the only thing that happened is he won the first two rounds against someone with a broken hand. I'm not saying he wouldn't have won, but Brian could've knocked him out or submitted him somewhere in the last three rounds.
"Since then, he's finished Damacio Page in a submission of the night, and then he comes comes back and beats a tough Mizugaki. It's almost a little disrespectful to even question why Mighty Mouse in there. People are so used to seeing Brian finish and he wasn't able to do it, but it was still a solid win. He deserves it."
By way of contrast, Bowles' decision win over Mizugaki was the first time he's gone to the judges' scorecards in his professional career. He's finished six of his UFC/WEC wins, four by submission and two by KO. Johnson has been to decisions in four of his 11 pro fights. All of those, however, have come since signing with Zuffa in April 2010. During that time, his only finish has come in a third-round submission of Damacio Page. It was the second win in his current four-fight win streak.
The UFC has yet to tip their hand as to the next challenger for Cruz, but Bowles and Johnson remain the most likely candidates.