Following a career-making victory over Satoru Kitaoka at Dream 18 on New Year’s Eve of last year, lightweight “Ill” Will Brooks learned there are pitfalls of success when he lost his first ever fight just two months later to Saad Awad at Bellator 91.
“I think (the loss) was more of me allowing myself to get content and very comfortable with the amount of success I was having,” said Brooks. “That’s always a downfall in any sport, getting content can be a problem for anyone.”
Brooks made changes in his approach that harkened back to when he was an up-and-coming fighter, and got back on track with a TKO win over Cris Leyva in July at Bellator 97.
“I decided I was going to get back to what I naturally know what to do, and that’s get comfortable in the cage and train hard,” said Brooks. “After losing that one fight, I knew what I needed to do was take some time back, get refocused on training, and prepare a lot better for these fights.
“I did what I needed to do (against Leyva). Unfortunately some people didn’t find it to be the most explosive, entertaining fight ever, but for me it really didn’t matter, I just wanted to get my W and get back in the winner’s circle.”
Refocused, Brooks (10-1) enters this season’s lightweight tournament first round at Bellator 101 in Portland against one of the most seasoned fighters in the bracket, former UFC lightweight John “The Natural” Alessio (34-16).
“When you’re facing a guy like John, you’ve got to stay very focused on your game plan because he’s such an experienced guy that he’s seen a lot different things and it’s going to be very hard to bring something he hasn’t seen before,” said Brooks.
“I have to bring something he has seen before, but at a different pace or in a different style, as athletic as I possibly can be, and get inside his mind and force him to really over-think everything that’s going on around him.”
Having made the mistake of looking too far ahead, Brooks told MMAWeekly.com that his focus solely on Alessio and Friday night, and should things go further, he’ll focus on them when they come.
“This time around I’m just trying to focus on one fight at a time,” he said. “In the last tournament, I was focused on my ambitions and goals of winning the tournament and fighting for the belt and I looked past the fights that were in front of me.
“To me, that’s one thing I’m trying to blank out of my mind, and just take it as part of my career and part of my job by taking it one step, one fight at a time.”