“Ill” Will Brooks is no doubt living up to his nickname and feeling pretty poorly right now. After impressing in his UFC debut, the former Bellator lightweight champion has since lost two straight.
Prior to joining the UFC, the American had amassed a highly respectable professional MMA record of 18 wins and one defeat (which he eventually avenged). During his time in Bellator, the Chicago native managed to capture the interim Lightweight title with a split decision win over current champion, Michael Chandler. This was followed by a rematch with Chandler for the vacant title. During this contest he became the first man to stop Chandler via strikes, winning by TKO in round four and in the process becoming the undisputed Lightweight champ.
Brooks went on to defend the title twice, beating Dave Jansen and Marcin Held respectively and was quickly snapped up by the UFC after testing the free agency market, signing a six-fight deal with the organisation.
Brooks made his UFC debut in July 2016, winning by unanimous decision over sturdy Brit, Ross Pearson. In his next contest, Brooks fought Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira at UFC Fight Night 96 in October 2016. Much was made about this fight as “Cowboy” came in at 161.5lbs (5.5lbs over the weight limit).
Despite this Brooks still accepted the fight and took 20% of Oliveira’s fight purse as a result. Brooks started well but injured his rib midway through the fight which clearly affected him. After Oliveira scored a big takedown in round three, Brooks was clearly compromised and unable to intelligently defend himself after some brutal ground and pound from “Cowboy”. This marked only the second time in his career Brooks had been stopped due to strikes.
After taking time to recuperate, Brooks returned this past weekend taking at UFC 210 to take on Charles Oliveira. Oliveira was making a comeback to the Lightweight division after numerous failed attempts to make the 145lb limit in the Featherweight division. Brooks was the bookies’ favourite heading into the contest but was quickly submitted by Oliveira at 2:30 of the very first round. This was the first time the former Bellator man had been submitted in a professional MMA fight, and Oliveira picked up a “Performance of the Night” bonus for his efforts.
After losing two straight via stoppage in the UFC (to mid-tier opponents), where does “Ill” Will go from here? Will a third straight loss (which usually guarantees your pink slip) mark an end to a rather unspectacular UFC run? Or can he establish himself as a top Lightweight once again?