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Tuesday, February 05, 2013
A little over a month ago, although he had an undefeated record in MMA, the 26-year-old Illinois-based Will Brooks was not well-known internationally as a fighter. That all changed on December 31, 2012, when he faced the far more experienced Japanese submission master and former Sengoku lightweight champion Satoru Kitaoka on the Dream 18 New Year's Eve card in Saitama, Japan. While Kitaoka tried for submissions, Will Brooks outfought him and pulled off the upset with a second-round TKO win, thus exploding onto the international MMA scene.
That high profile and convincing win led to him being entered in the Bellator MMA season eight lightweight tournament. Just a month after his win in Japan, Will Brooks was matched up once again with yet another more experienced opponent, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and Bellator veteran Ricardo Tirloni, in the tournament quarterfinals on January 31 in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. While Tirloni also tried to win this fight with submissions, Will Brooks outboxed and outwrestled him to take a three-round unanimous decision, with all three judges scoring it 30-27 in his favor.
The victory over Tirloni advanced him to the lightweight tournament semifinals, where, according to the posted brackets, he will face Saad Awad. While it has not been officially announced, that fight may take place March 7 in Temecula, California, at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, and be televised live in the U.S. on Spike TV.
Yet even with all this new-found notoriety and attention, Will Brooks has a larger vision of what he wants to accomplish.
"MIxed martial arts, I love the sport, I love competing, but also I want to be an ambassador," he said in this interview, which was recorded by phone Saturday. "I want to show people that you don't have to just be an athlete. You don't have to just be a winner. You can affect people in other ways. Plus, you can use this as a way to do that."
Of course, his goals as a fighter are to go as far as he can.
"I'm looking to be a champion at some point in my life," he continued. "Right now I think I'm on the road to doing that. I'm going to be doing this for a long time. Nothing against any of the other guys in the lightweight division, but I believe that I'm going to be a dominating force and a threat for a very long time to come."
We also discussed his transition from wrestling to football to MMA, his need to work on submissions, his training at the Midwest Training Center and with American Top Team, his boxing training for MMA and understanding of the importance of throwing straight jabs, and much more.
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