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Brian Bowles: Being the WEC Champion Won't Change Me

Brian Bowles shocked the mixed martial arts world on Sunday night when he knocked out Miguel Torres to win the World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight title. In an interview with FanHouse Thursday, Bowles said even he didn't think he'd knock Torres out less than four minutes into their fight.

But Bowles also said he followed a well-crafted game plan to get himself into position to knock Torres out, and he said he's going to keep training hard and fighting the same way now that he's the champion.

Bowles also said that he broke a bone in his hand punching an unconscious Torres, that he expects to make his first title defense against Dominick Cruz, and that he thinks the win should put him near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings.

Michael David Smith: How does it feel to be the bantamweight champion of the world?
Brian Bowles: It feels really, really good.

Most people in the MMA world were surprised that you beat Miguel Torres. Are you surprised?
I didn't really expect to knock him out that easily, but I thought I would fight really well, and I did. I think I was beating him throughout the fight.

For about the first minute of the fight, you really didn't do much and you seemed like you were waiting for Miguel to make the first move. Was part of your game plan to be patient?
Yeah, I didn't want to jump the gun. I was just waiting for him to get his kicks going so I could see what those looked like. My game plan was to come over that jab and just wait for the right moment.

When you knocked him down the first time, were you surprised by that?
I figured if I hit him in a good place with a good punch he'd go down, but that first punch I think kind of shocked him a little bit, and he was surprised.

When you guys went to the ground, Miguel pulled you into his guard, but you stayed pretty active on the ground, hitting him with some punches and some elbows. Was it important for you to keep hitting him when you were in his guard and not allow him to get comfortable on the ground?
Oh, yeah. I didn't want to just take him down and lay there. I just wanted to stay in good position on the ground and try to do some damage while we were down there. Really, a big part of my game plan was to be able to mix it up and take the fight everywhere.

At the end of the fight you did knock Miguel unconscious, and I thought it was a rather slow stoppage. I thought the ref should have stepped in and stopped the fight sooner. Do you agree?
Yes. I broke my hand on him when he was unconscious, so if the ref would have stopped the fight it would have saved me a broken hand.

Yeah, it would have saved both you and Miguel some trouble. So what, exactly, happened to your hand?
The middle finger, the metacarpal, on my left hand, was broken on that last series of punches, after he was already out. When you punch somebody like that, there's nothing to give, and what gave was the bone broke.

How long will you be out of action? Will you need surgery?
I've talked to a couple of docs and gotten a couple of opinions. They popped it back in place -- it was out of place pretty bad -- and as long as it stays in place then no surgery. But if not then I'll have to have surgery on it. It's been a few days now and it's still in place, so I think I'm going to be OK without having any surgery.

What's your schedule for getting back in the gym and then getting back in the cage?
I'll be back in the gym soon but I don't know for sure when I'll be able to start punching stuff hard again. I don't think it's really too serious, too big an injury, but we'll have to see how it feels, see when the WEC wants me to fight again, and go from there.

In addition to your hand, how's the back injury that kept you out of action, and I also noticed you were wearing a knee brace against Miguel. Is there anything wrong with your knee?
I just put a brace on the knee because sometimes my knee hurts a little -- nothing bad -- and the knee brace helps keep it warmed up and keeps it from acting up. My back is good. My core and my back are stronger than ever.

Now that you're the champion do you think you ought to go to the WEC and ask for more money?
(Laughs) It'd be nice to get paid more. I think I should be getting paid more. But I guess there's a reason. I don't know.

Who do you think your first title defense will come against?
I think Dominick Cruz. I think he's the No. 1 guy out there.

What kind of challenges do you think he poses for you?
He's a good wrestler. He's got awkward footwork and he's a good boxer.

I think Dominick probably has a reach advantage over you, and Miguel also had a reach advantage over you. I noticed against Miguel you didn't seem to hesitate at all to go to the inside. Is that the game plan against opponents with a reach advantage?
I actually have a pretty long reach for someone my size. Miguel's is supposedly 76 inches but I don't think it really is that long. But I have a pretty good reach. I don't know that Dominick has a reach advantage over me. I might even have a reach advantage over him of an inch or so. My reach has been measured at 70.5 inches. But Torres is long and lanky, and I did try to get to the inside against him.

When you look ahead to Dominick, and possibly fighting Miguel again, or maybe someone like Takeya Mizugaki, the bantamweight division seems pretty strong. Do you think at all about how long you might be able to hold the belt, and how many big title fights you could have ahead of you?

I just try to take one fight at a time. Whoever they put in front of me is fine. I don't really get to choose, I just fight whoever they say is the No. 1 contender.

Do you think at all about where this win puts you in the pound-for-pound rankings?
I haven't really thought about that too much, but Miguel was always ranked near the top in those rankings, so if he was up there and I beat him, obviously that puts me up there.

What do you still need to improve on as a fighter?
I just need to get my whole game better. Every training camp I want to get better and better. I want to get back in the gym, look at any mistakes I made in the fight with Miguel, improve on those and try to make my total game better.

You haven't just won every fight but you've finished every fight. Is that something you pride yourself on, finishing your opponents?
It's actually not something I think about too much, but it is pretty impressive when you look at it. I've fought some great fighters and I've tried to go out there and beat them and I've finished everyone.

Just three years ago, you were starting up your MMA career fighting in Wild Bill's Fight Night, a small-time MMA promotion in Georgia. Are you surprised how quickly you rose up from there to being the champion of the world?
Yeah. You don't really know when you're at that level how you match up with the best guys, but when you get a chance to prove it, you want to prove it to yourself. When I got my first WEC fight with Charlie Vallencia, I thought, now it's time to put up or shut up. And I've just kept winning fights since then.

And now you've won by far the biggest fight of your career. How do you think this win will change your life?
I don't think much will change. It's not going to change the way I train, and it's not going to change me. I'll get more respect as a fighter, but I'll be the same person either way.

Injuries aside, you sound like you're itching to get back into the cage soon.
Yeah, I am. I'm trying to stay positive and get back out there and mix it up.

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