After nine straight wins, including a unanimous decision over Ross Pearson in his UFC debut last July, former Bellator lightweight champion “Ill” Will Brooks suffered his first loss in just over three years when Alex Oliveira TKO’d him in October.
Though the loss puts him at 1-1 in the UFC, Brooks doesn’t believe the loss to Olivera derailed him in any way, as he’s able to put it behind him and focus on what is next.
“I never move backward, I only move forward,” Brooks said at the UFC 210 media day. “I’ll never reset anything. I went out in that last fight and I lost, but I still did pretty well. There were a few certain things that I should have adapt to and make adjustments to, and be able to win that fight.
Brooks (18-2) will look to rebound at UFC 210 on Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y., against Charles Oliveira (21-7) in a main card 155-pound bout, but it was not the only return bout that was on his radar.
“I was campaigning for the Anthony Pettis fight,” said Brooks. “When they offered me the fight, they offered Anthony Pettis, and said they were talking to him, but there were some medical things he was going through, so they weren’t sure if he’d be cleared. So the back-up plan was Charles Oliveira.
“Either way for me, it was just like I want to get back out there and compete. I know I’m better than I was in the last fight. Even though I still feel like I performed pretty well for the most part, I just didn’t get across that finish line and get the W.”
When later asked if Pettis would be a fight for a future date, Brooks is open to the idea, but only if it’s what will help get him closer to title contention.
“It’s just a fight that I thought would be really exciting,” Brooks said. “He’s a very talented fighter. He’s moving back to lightweight, and I just wanted to get back in there and – that’s the reason why I came to fight in the UFC – to fight all the best guys, and Anthony Pettis is a guy who is considered one of the best lightweights in MMA for a very long time.
“After this victory, I’ll continue to move forward and focus on getting to the title. If they put Pettis in front of me at some point, and he’s a target, that’s somebody I’ve got to get through, I’ll do that.”
Regardless of his standing in the UFC right now, he believes within a year to be within the lightweight title hunt, if not become the champion.
“I 100-percent believe that if I stay locked in to what I can do, I’ll be the lightweight champion,” said Brooks.
“I think there’s a window wide open to UFC right now and the lightweight division. There’s a lot of talent, but there’s no guys who have the full package as far as the mindset, as far as the politics of this sport, and being able to connect them all into one package. I think I’m that guy to be able to do it.”