Former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks made his Octagon debut on Friday night at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale in Las Vegas. It wasn’t quite the splash that he would have liked to make in his new promotion, but Brooks got the better of UFC veteran Ross Pearson.
Despite an eight-fight winning streak and holding the belt, Brooks was unceremoniously issued an early release from his Bellator contract. He immediately shifted his focus to the UFC and accepted the fight with Pearson.
Brooks took command of the fight from the opening bell. He set up camp in the center of the Octagon, remaining patient, and mostly employing a countering style in the opening round, forcing Pearson to press forward.
As much as Pearson tried to dart in on Brooks, it worked against him, as Brooks was a more crisp and accurate, being particularly sharp with his knees when they closed the distance.
He also showed his explosiveness in shooting a double-leg takedown early in the round. Brooks racked up some Octagon control time on the ground following the takedown, but was unable to mount much damage. He was still exerting his control for the better part of the round.
Pearson understood that there was a good chance he was down two rounds to none going into the final frame, and it showed. He rushed Brooks and landed with a jab and uppercut that caught the former Bellator champion’s attention.
It was a great start to the best round of the fight for Pearson. He finally put his combinations together and mixed in numerous knees and short elbows. Brooks negated some of his offense with a solid throw late in the round, but Pearson was more aggressive and in control in the final round, hurting Brooks on several occasions.
After three rounds, however, it was too little, too late for Pearson. Brooks had exerted enough control and landed more frequently and accurately over the first two rounds to earn a 29-28 nod from all three judges.
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s just been a helluva ride. This is just the beginning of my journey in the UFC,” said Brooks after the fight, before quickly taking aim at an old rival.
Eddie Alvarez, also a former Bellator champion, took the UFC lightweight championship from Rafael dos Anjos on Thursday night. In doing so, he became the first fighter to have won both the Bellator and UFC belts.
Brooks wants to become the second such fighter.
“Eddie Alvarez, hold on to that belt for a little bit,” said Brooks. “You got away from me in the other organization. I’m here now, I wanna take that.”
(Photo courtesy of Bellator)