Brian Bowles ponders the question for what seems like an eternity. The top-ranked bantamweight contender in World Extreme Cagefighting was asked where he believes he has an edge over Miguel Torres, whom he'll meet in the main event of WEC 42 on Aug. 9 in Las Vegas.
"I have better wrestling, I think," Bowles offers, after a lengthy pause. "Though he doesn't really try to wrestle, to be honest. I don't know. I just believe I'm going to win. It's confidence in myself, that's all."
All right, so Bowles isn't going to rival Tank Abbott for interviewing prowess. Answering questions well, though, isn't going to do much to scare off Torres, who is ranked No. 4 in the Yahoo! Sports MMA rankings and one of the most complete fighters in the sport.
Not many outside of Bowles' inner circle are giving him a particularly good shot to win, which is hardly a surprise to Bowles. When you're fighting a guy who has reeled off 17 consecutive wins and has 31 wins by submission or knockout, you're not going to garner a lot of public support unless you're able to carry a weapon.
Bowles has kept a low profile throughout the promotion and hasn't paid much notice to the attention being lavished upon Torres or the talk Torres has been doing.
"Basically, I've stayed away from the Internet and I haven't paid attention to what he's said or what anyone has said, really," Bowles said. "What we say we're going to do doesn't really matter. And what anyone else says really doesn't matter. When it's just me and him, that's all that concerns me. I don't want to deal with any of the negativity or anything else. I don't want to know what is on the Internet or all that because that's just a distraction that isn't good to do me any good.
"I had a lot of work to do to prepare for this fight because I know the significance of it. I'd rather be remembered for how I fight, so I'm working as hard as I can so I'll be as prepared as I can be when we fight."
A one-time police officer, Bowles had to pull out of his scheduled fight with Torres in April. He compressed two disks in his back and needed to undergo physical therapy to rehabilitate it.
He was cageside when his replacement, Takeya Mizugaki, took Torres five rounds in one of 2009's best fights. Though he believes he could have won that night, he hasn't allowed himself to think 'what if?' He'll get his chance against Torres soon enough.
"It was an injury I had for a while that I didn't take of care the way I should have," Bowles said. "The years of wrestling and grinding away in the gym took a toll on it. But I've worked really hard and I'm doing a lot of stretching and I haven't had any problems with it.
"I've been able to go hard all the time in this camp and I haven't had to worry about [pain]. It's been a good training camp and I've gotten a lot done."
And though he firmly believes he'll end Torres' lengthy winning streak and hoist the WEC belt when the fight's over, he won't allow himself to think ahead.
Just being competitive with Torres is significant for many of those in the bantamweight division, so dominant has Torres been. A win would be a life-altering moment for Bowles, but he's not getting too worked up.
At least he's not just yet.
"If I beat Miguel and win the title, I'm sure the significance of it will dawn on me at that point," Bowles said. "I don't worry about a title or a belt or any of that, though. My only thought is Miguel Torres. He is one of the best fighters in the world and I have to be at a very high level to beat him. That's all I've thought about for the last couple of months, what I could do that day to help me get better to beat Miguel Torres."
- Miguel Torres
- Brian Bowles