UFC 139 preview: Faber vs. Bowles

Urijah Faber (25-5) vs. Brian Bowles (10-1)

Top bantamweights will face off as Faber tries to return to the win column against the former WEC champion Bowles.

Faber, 32, lost a razor-thin decision to Dominick Cruz in a UFC bantamweight title bout at UFC 132 this past July. The loss snapped the California native’s two-fight winning streak at bantamweight, which included victories over Eddie Wineland and Takeya Mizugaki.

A poster boy of the now-defunct World Extreme Cagefighting organization, Faber held the featherweight title before losses to Jose Aldo and Mike Thomas Brown made him reconsider his weight.

The Team Alpha Male captain, a sensational wrestler, has rounded out his game with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt under Fabio Prado, which he put on display in his November 2010 submission win over Mizugaki.

Faber’s rematch with Cruz was an extremely close fight and "The California Kid" is undoubtedly counting down the days until he can once again challenge for the UFC title. The first step is a former champion himself with his own aspirations of UFC gold.

Bowles, 31, also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is coming off back-to-back wins over Damacio Page and Mizugaki since the WEC was absorbed into the UFC.

The Hardcore Gym and American Top Team pupil, whose only loss is to the current champion Cruz, is perhaps best known for his stunning knockout of Miguel Torres in August 2009.

Both Faber and Cruz are well-rounded fighters who are comfortable anywhere the fight goes. However, the major difference maker will be Faber’s strength advantage.

A powerhouse at 135 pounds, Faber should land the heavier blows and also mix up his offense by scoring with takedowns. Bowles may be too tough to finish, but he’ll likely come out on the losing end if judges decide the fight.

Verdict: Faber via decision