Former Bellator Lightweight Champ ‘Ill’ Will Brooks Cut by UFC, Joins PFL

Will Brooks
Credit: Dave Mandel/

Will Brooks departure from the UFC comes as no surprise, but joining the PFL may turn a few heads.

The Will Brooks experiment in the UFC is over. Like Eddie Alvarez, Brooks joined the UFC as a former Bellator MMA lightweight champion with a lot of upside. Unlike Alvarez, however, Brooks was never able to achieve the success necessary to break into the top of the weight class. On Wednesday, Brooks announced he’d been cut by the UFC — but landed on his feet with the Professional Fighters League.

Brooks (18-4) finished his UFC run having gone 1-4 in the promotion, losing his final three bouts. He pulled off a unanimous decision win in his debut against former Ultimate Fighter winner Ross Pearson, but following that, was finished in each of his next three fights. Those losses included a TKO by Alex Oliveira, and submissions to Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz. Having gone on the dreaded 0-3 run and finished each time, the writing was on the wall.

The good news for Brooks is that he’ll have the opportunity to pocket a million dollars in the PFL’s season-style format later this year. Brooks himself announced the news, and immediately, he becomes a fighter to watch in the promotion.

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For those of you who have been asking when my next fight is… well, I'm not sure when the next will be but it will not be with the UFC but rather with the @profightleague in the Million Dollar tournament. I've been doing this for a while now and I understand the business side of it. I didn't do the job that was expected of me and like all jobs I was released, rightfully so. Unfortunately, I under performed with the UFC and didn't achieve the goal I wanted to with that opportunity. I regret nothing, I took a chance at something I wanted and came up short. The fighter/competitor in me is highly disappointed with myself for allowing things to get away from me. The UFC chapter is closed for now… I'd like to thank the UFC staff for treating me so well during my employment. From day one I was treated well and with respect. I appreciate that greatly. Now with that being said, I am moving forward toward the next chapter. I'm extremely excited and fired up to be part of the @profighteague and their rebirth. The timing is perfect because I'm in my own rebirth process as well. As always I'm going to represent this organization as professionally as I possibly can. I look forward to being a pivotal part of the PFL's growth in this sport. All praise and glory to God. 1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. – Psalms 121:1-2 At my highest and my lowest, He's been with me and seen me through to lands of milk and honey. Thank you God for blessing me with this incredible opportunity for my family and myself. Now let's go secure this bag!!!! #Godisgood #hardwork #dedication #mma #ufc #PFL #professional #athlete #Godsplan #winningatlife #blackexcellence

A post shared by Will Brooks (@illwavybrooks86) on

“I’m extremely excited and fired up to be part of the @ProFightLeague and their rebirth” Brooks said in a post to Instagram (referring to the PFL having been reborn from its former moniker, the World Series of Fighting). “I look forward to being a pivotal part of the PFL’s growth in this sport.”

Interestingly, one of the PFL’s bigger names, welterweight Jon Fitch, was recently in talks with Brooks’ old home, Bellator MMA, having finished his contract. At the end of the PFL’s inaugural season, the winner of each weight class will take home $1 million dollars U.S. The promotion announced a broadcast deal with NBC SN (where it currently airs) and Facebook earlier this year.

Back in Bellator, Brooks captured a pair of wins against one of the promotion’s biggest homegrown stars, Michael Chandler. Both wins came in title fights, first for the interim lightweight title, then the undisputed crown. Brooks then defended the promotion’s 155lb belt twice prior to signing with the UFC.

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