Will Brooks is rejuvenated and feeling like the fighter who won nine straight ahead of his PFL debut this Thursday in Chicago.
Chicago’s own ‘Ill’ Will Brooks will be throwing down against Pride vet Luiz Firmino in the main event of PFL 2 on Thursday. Fighting in his own back yard is a thrill for the former Bellator MMA lightweight champ, something he told reporters Tuesday he would have fought for if the Professional Fighters League had booked him anywhere else.
Yet despite the exhilaration of fighting at home, Brooks’ struggles of late remain a focal point. It was no surprise then that his three fight skid in the UFC, which ultimately saw his exit from the promotion, was brought up almost immediately.
“I rebound from things,” he said of his current slump. “I’ve been competing my whole life. On an individual level, or a team sports level. Win or lose throughout, being a competitor, it is what it is.”
“If you don’t know how to bounce back, you might be in the wrong area of work,” he continued. “The idea of losing three fights doesn’t doesn’t stay with me. I recognize it, I analyze it, I make the adjustments I need to make.”
Whether the adjustments Brooks has made between his UFC tenure and his PFL debut pay off remains to be seen. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the mental side of things. “Moving to a new promotion doesn’t change my mindset,” Brooks explained. “All it does, it gets me gassed up. Especially with where they’re trying to go right now, in regards to rebranding and rebuilding their promotion, their organization. It just gives me that extra boost — like all right, we’re kind of in the same space right now.”
“I’m feeling rejuvenated, I’m feeling brand new,” he added later.
There is, mind you, the danger of trying to force the win, something Brooks is aware of. “As competitors, we want to win, that’s what we want,” he said. “But we can get so caught up in trying to hunt it down, and seek it out, and you start to miss it, because you’re working so hard to get it. So sometimes you need a little break from everything, you need a little time off.”
Prior to his struggles in the UFC, mind you, Will Brooks was on a nine fight win streak, held Bellator gold, and was considered to be one of the top lightweights in the world. The man who twice beat Michael Chandler would only need to win half as many fights to claim one million dollars in the PFL, something not lost on the lightweight.
“It’s definitely one of those things that you keep in the back of your mind,” Brooks admitted. “It was one of the things that brought me over here. I had the opportunity to go to other organizations, but I was like ‘man if I go to other places, I’m not going to have the opportunity to make this kind of money.’ Especially in the mindset that I’m in now, that I’m genuinely refocused, I feel like the guy that’s on a nine fight winning streak.”
As for his UFC struggles, the pressure of becoming a father played a role, Brooks explained. “For a little bit there, when my daughter came into the world, I put all my energy into being the best husband and father I can be, and laying that foundation,” he explained. “Which, in honesty, I started to subtract the effort that I was putting in in the gym, how much passion I was putting into the sport.”
Not that he’d change his approach. “If I could go back, I’d probably do it the same way, just because I’m that type of guy — my family comes before everything,” he admitted. “It was a new experience; I’m experienced now, I’m well-rounded now, me and my wife have gotten things organized, we’re very comfortable in the new life that we’re in, so I’m genuinely feeling like I’m back to being that guy that can win nine straight.”
He won’t need nine, but a big win on Thursday at PFL 2 against Luiz Firmino, especially a finish, will get ‘Ill’ Will Brooks off the a great start in the PFL’s lightweight tournament.