Fate, destiny, predestination, divine will, fortune, luck—these are all words that describe having no control over what happens to one’s self. We are born with seemingly no control over to whom, or when. And many times we have no control over certain factors, like when our parents die or when we face our own death. But the Hindu folk have another word for luck. They call it karma.

Karma might be left over from a past life, but let’s leave the theologians to debate that. The one area where we certainly do have a lot of power is in creating our own luck or opportunities.

“Even when opportunity knocks, a man still has to get up off his seat and open the door.” – Anonymous

Brooks (L) celebrates (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Brooks (L) celebrates (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Will “Ill Will” Brooks is a man who makes his own luck, or karma, or fate, or whatever you want to call it. And he has been there to open the door when opportunity comes a-calling. Brooks has never had it easy. When his dreams of playing in the NFL were squashed due to injury, he made some bad choices. His biological family wasn’t the most nurturing. For Brooks, it’s important that he not be known for his circumstances, but how he has been able to rise above them. With help from adoptive family, friends, training partners and coaches, Brooks has been able to put himself in position to become the next Bellator lightweight champion.

“When it’s all said and done, I want to be remembered as the best of the best,” stated Brooks in an interview with The MMA Corner. “I want to be known as one of the guys who was willing to put in the work to achieve the championship. In the future, when kids and fans are arguing about who was better, I want my name to come up as one of the best in the lightweight division. I want to be known as someone who creates change. Change for me, change for others, change in the organization, change for better. I want to help people change their lives, whether it be by inspiring them or creating awareness or working with charities.”

Brooks went undefeated in his first seven pro fights, all in his home state of Illinois. Then he was invited to participate in Dream 18. After a stunning upset of veteran fighter Satoru Kitaoka via TKO in the second round, Brooks was offered the chance to participate in Bellator’s lightweight tournament. He won his first fight, but lost his second to Saad Awad via knockout in the first frame. Brooks faced a choice—he could wallow in pity or find opportunity in his first pro defeat.

“Opportunity often comes in disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.” – Napoleon Hill

“After my loss to Awad, I still had some [American Top Team Coconut Creek] teammates in the tourney, so I got to learn from them. I was observing the coaches and fighters, watching how they took days off to rest their bodies, not pushing too much past breaking point,” Brooks recalled. “I observed their game plans, how they implemented them. That was my main focus, was to get back in and win that tournament.

“I went to unanimous decision in all my tournament fights on purpose. My strategy was focusing on winning and getting out of each fight as unscathed as possible, no damage. The tournament style is hard on the body. If you go in there wanting to bang it out, you put yourself at risk. I wanted to go in there and neutralize them using my wrestling base. To take away the knockout [and] to keep from getting cuts is an intelligent strategy. If you go in there looking for the KO in the first round and so does your opponent, then you’re both swinging for the fences. Say you win with second-round KO, but you got caught in the first and you’ve got a huge gash above your eye—that’s a crappy way to go out. There is plenty of time after the tournament to outstrike, out-punch, et cetera.

Brooks (top) (Will Fox/Sherdog)

Brooks (top) (Will Fox/Sherdog)

‘This was my plan—to grind out the wins, create a lot of damage with my ground-and-pound and avoid taking the damage myself. The fight with [John] Alessio, my last fight, I landed a huge elbow. But Awad, he knew who I was and knew more about how I planned to neutralize him. But the tournament was just a means to an end; my main focus has always been to get to [Michael] Chandler or [Eddie] Alvarez.”

Even after he became tournament champion, Brooks didn’t have that immediate opportunity. Bellator wasn’t ready to put Brooks up for the title. Instead, at Bellator 120, Brooks was slated to face Nate Jolly while the Chandler vs. Alvarez rubber match headlined the promotion’s first-ever pay-per-view venture. But, as fate would have it, Alvarez suffered a concussion while training and was forced to bow out of the fight. Now, Brooks will face 12-1 Michael Chandler for the interim title.

Brooks, now 13-1, has been preparing for years for this fight. Now, rather suddenly, he is in a position to make his dream come true.

“I’ve been focused on getting better personally every day,” he said. “We’ve been working on skills and approach and testing new skills, definitely got some surprising moves. You can never predict exactly how a fight will go, but I will be going for the finish. If I fight like I’ve been training, he is in trouble. I am more focused than ever and more ready than ever.”

Will would like to give a shout out to Feeding South Florida, a charity that “helps feed the hungry and reminds us that there are over one million people going to bed hungry every day. We can do something to help them.” Will would also like to thank his sponsors: Garden of Life Supplements, Damage Control Mouthguards and Beaumonde Clothing. Will thanks his coaches for having shaped him into what he is now. He would also especially like to thank his family, friends and girlfriend for supporting him at all costs—“Without you none of this is possible.” Follow Brooks on Twitter: @illwillbrooks86

About The Author

Staff Writer

Amber currently resides in Tampa, Fla., a hotbed of MMA. She was introduced to the sport Memorial Day weekend in 2006 and quickly became addicted. Amber loves the fact that the biggest and strongest don’t always win, the respect the competitors show and that women are finally getting their shot. She also writes a blog for Fight It Out gear. When not watching MMA, Amber can be found at the beach playing volleyball, in the gym learning from Tampa’s only female BJJ Black Belt, cheering on her eight-year-old daughter in tae kwon do, or at her day job. She has a girlfriend, daughter, too many dogs and a cat who lives in the attic. Communication highly encouraged at amber at fightitout dot com.

  • Black mma fan

    Wishing you the best of luck Brooks