Lost amid all the backwash of UFC 127 and the numerous discussions of the drama involved therein, one can find a card stacked with new talent and old favorites as the UFC gives fans their third free card to be broadcast on the Versus network tomorrow night. UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann features a great sampling from the lightweights with a fight between “Daddy” Joe Stevenson (31-11) and “Last Call” Danny Castillo (9-3) and pulls two excellent match-ups from the organization’s middleweight roster with “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7) vs. Chris Weidman (4-0) and “The Doberman” CB Dollaway (11-2) vs. “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (7-2). Slated for main event duty are long time welterweight stand-outs “The Nightmare” Diego Sanchez (22-4) and “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-4) in a bout that may lock a future contendership contest for the winner. The UFC has not forgotten the deep roster of top flight smaller fighters it brought into the fold from the WEC either with UFC on Versus 3, either. A bout of particular interest to fans of the now-defunct UFC sister organization will take place in the newly formed UFC bantamweight division as “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (10-6) steps up to redeem himself in a rematch against the once beaten former king of the division, Brian Bowles (8-1) who has not been seen since losing the WEC belt in March of 2010. Both men are coming off losses and have a lot to prove to their new bosses and the tried and true WEC fans can’t wait to see them do it.
At First Glance: The last time these two men met, Bowles was an undefeated young buck tromping towards his first professional title shot and Page was a more experienced fighter who had just taken a huge step up in competition from regional promotions and JMMA shows to squaring off in the WEC. The fight ended quickly as Bowles battered Page into ducking his head and slapped on a tight Standing Guillotine Choke to seal the deal. Both men have gone 2-1 since their last meeting and it will be interesting to see the changes those fights have made in each bantamweights’ game. Bowles suffered his first loss and then spent a year on the injured reserve with a broken hand then a broken foot, leaving a lot of questions to be answered in this rematch. Page seemed to rebound well from his loss with back-to-back impressive first round finishes before the hot-cold fighter ran into “Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson (11-1) and fell victim to yet another Guillotine Choke, this time in the third stanza. In the UFC, consistency is the key to a long career and Page has yet to show that he possesses that quality.
In Depth: Bowles has already beaten Page and beaten him decisively. He has also fared much better against far superior competition than Page, defeating two of three straight top ten bantamweight fighters where Page has faced only two and was finished in each bout in impressive fashion. Coupled with this is the fact that Bowles has only been pushed once in his career, having dominated every opponent he faced until a hand injury ended his title fight with Dominick Cruz (16-1) prematurely. Page is a good fighter who has a solid future in the sport, especially with the help he gets from Jackson’s Submission Fighting, but Bowles is a great fighter with a wealth of natural talent that should prove to be “The Angel of Death’s” undoing yet again.
Wild Card: Brian Bowles will leave UFC on Versus 3 – win, lose, or draw – with a pair of brand new experiences. He will be stepping into the cage with a tic in the loss column for the first time and will also be dealing with the ring rust caused by a year’s worth of injury lay-off. Those are two situations that have effects on a fighter which can at times be completely unpredictable. The relaxed and fluid Bowles that captured the WEC bantamweight title in August 2009 may be dead and gone now that he tasted defeat for the first time. His excellent technique and powerful wrestling and boxing may have become more pedestrian following a year of minimal training. Either of those things could completely alter this bout and give Page, a solid fighter in his own right, an edge, especially considering that there will be no ring rust to speak of with Page who fought just four months ago.
The Verdict: Bowles has tasted defeat just once in his career and that fact is unlikely to change at UFC on Versus 3. Page is game, but Bowles has simply proven himself numerous times to be better in virtually every area of the game, especially in the boxing and wrestling aspects of MMA. While Bowles will certainly have a few kinks to work out from his long absence from the cage, he should still be able to ensure that there will be no rubber match in the future for Damacio Page. Bowles via TKO, Round 2.