With a win over Satoru Kitaoka on New Year’s Eve at Dream 18 and a spot in this season’s Bellator lightweight tournament, things are looking up for “Ill” Will Brooks, but it’s only because he feels he’s made changes for the better in his personal life that things in his career are looking up.
“For me, I’d been focusing on being a better person than my career, but the more I focused on being a better person spilled over into my career,” said Brooks.
“It’s just a positive energy that I’m trying to put out into the environment and people around me spilled over into my career and it’s really boosted my career and given me great opportunities like competing in Japan and coming back home and being able to sign with Bellator.”
Already a strong wrestler, Brooks told MMAWeekly.com that his striking has really been coming around of late, making him even more relaxed and potentially dangerous to opponents.
“I’m finding my comfort zone and place in the cage,” he said. “And once that starts happening, I think that’s when you really start to have success in whatever you do. “
Brooks’ peaking comes at an important time in his career, as he steps into Thursday’s Spike TV broadcasted Bellator event for company debut in the first round of the lightweight tournament against promotional veteran Ricardo Tirloni.
“He’s an explosive, well-rounded opponent, so I’m excited about it,” said Brooks of Tirloni. “I know he’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but from what video I’ve seen, he’s more than willing to stand and strike.
“Wherever it goes – ground, standing – I’m going to pressure him and make him look for ways to want to quit. That’s my job, to make the guy want to quit and not put it in the hands of the judges. I want to take everything from him; take his will and force him to look for a way out of the fight.”
Though he is 8-0 with finishes in all eight of his fights, Brooks feels every fight at this level is statement fight for him and that he wants to prove he’s as much of a threat to take the tournament title as anyone else.
“With this fight, I’m looking to keep putting in people’s mind that I am a dominant force in the lightweight division and will be here for a very long time,” he said. “I’m looking to finish this fight and have my hand raised at the end of the night.”
Having found himself at a good place both personally and professionally, Brooks is content to take things as they come and not look too far ahead of himself.
“In the beginning I was trying to force it, really focusing on ‘this is what I want to do, that is what I want to do’ and once I started doing that, I started putting a lot of pressure on myself and got into a really negative place,” he said.
“Recently I settled back and decided to take it one fight at a time, and whatever is put in front of me, I’ll deal with it as it comes.”