Will Brooks Set For Second Bellator Tourney: “I Have Everything it Takes to be One of The Best Lightweights” in MMA
By Kelsey Mowatt
This Friday, Will Brooks will begin participating in his second Bellator lightweight tournament, in somewhat different circumstances than those that surrounded his promotional debut January. When Brooks headed into Bellator’s Season Eight competition, the undefeated prospect was coming off an impressive second round stoppage of decorated vet Satoru Kitaoka at DREAM 18. The win put Brooks on the map in many MMA circles, and there was some considerable buzz behind the 26 year-old as he prepared to battle Ricardo Tirloni at Bellator 87.
After handing Tirloni a decision loss, Brooks advanced to face Saad Awad in the tourney’s semifinals, but the powerful lightweight caught Brooks early on and recorded a first round stoppage. For the first time in Brooks’ fighting career he was forced to deal with a defeat.
“I believe at that point, when I first came into the Bellator tournament, I came off the win in Japan and I was still trying to find my way to evolve as a fighter and evolve as a person,” Brooks said during a recent appearance on Full Contact Fighter Radio. “Sometimes we in life, in general in life, need different things to push us over the edge, to really force us to evolve as people, and for me, evolve as a fighter…that loss in the second round of the tournament was that thing that I needed at the time to push me overboard.”
“I think taking that loss, and losing that fight, has really put me in a different mind set where I’ve gotten back to being very patient with what I’m doing in the gym, putting in the work, and putting people around me that’s going to give me the best opportunities to win these fights,” added Brooks. “That fight really opened up my eyes as a person and as a fighter…it’s forced me to evolve as a person and as a fighter.”
Brooks returned to the cage at Bellator 97 in July, and went on to stop Chris Leyva in the third round to advance his record to 10-1. As a result of the win, Brooks was booked to compete in the next tourney, and will face noted vet John Alessio in the opening round on September 27th.
“I was very excited,” said Brooks, when asked for his reaction upon finding out he’ll fight the 34 year-old Alessio (34-16) next, who has fought for big stage promotions like the UFC, WEC and DREAM throughout his lengthy career. “I always look forward to fighting guys who have a lot of experience and who are talented fighters.”
Alessio will be fighting for just the second time since he exited from the UFC last year. At an Aggression Fighting Championship card last November, Alessio’s bout with Dave Mazany was declared a no contest, after the UFC vet was accidently poked in the eye and could not continue.
“I just got really jacked up,” the American Top Team fighter added. “I feel like when I fight guys that have been around for a long time, and who have a lot behind them, I think that brings out the best in me and pushes me into a different type of level, as far my training goes, and forces me to really be on my A game that night…I think this is going to be great opportunity to show people that I have everything it takes to be one of the best lightweights in mixed-martial-arts sports in general.”
And has Brooks thought about the possibility of facing Awad in the tourney? Who will fight Martin Stapleton in the competition’s quarterfinals?
“Right now all I can do is focus on John Alession,” said Brooks. “That’s the guy I need to be focused on right now. Whatever happens in the future, happens in the future; I’ll be ready to compete this time around.”
Bellator 101 will be hosted by Portland’s Rose Garden Arena and the main card will be broadcast on SPIKE.