by Matt Lo Cascio
Will Brooks ran his record to a perfect 9-0 and advanced to the semifinals of the Bellator lightweight tournament Thursday night after dominating Ricardo Tirloni for three rounds. It was a runaway win for Brooks, taking the victory via unanimous decision, scored 30-27 on all three judges’ cards.
Brooks was emotional in his post-fight interview with analyst Jimmy Smith. When asked how important it was to win in front of adoptive dad Michael Jakolat after dedicating the fight to the memory of his adoptive mom, Brooks choked up and needed some time to gather himself before answering.
“I don’t know what to say right now. I’m just happy to be here. I’m just happy to get an opportunity. I’ve been working my butt off for all this. Everybody’s just been sacrificing a lot for me to do what I do and I’m just glad I can come out here and make them proud,” Brooks said.
Brooks had his way with Tirloni in every aspect of the fight. He was clearly the more effective striker and used his stellar wrestling to repeatedly take Tirloni down. Brooks tempted fate and entered Tirloni’s guard on several occasions, but he was able to maintain top position and do damage to the BJJ specialist.
Tirloni was able to apply some holds that seemed to be airtight, but Brooks was able to escape. He survived guillotine and triangle attempts, as well as a nasty knee that landed below the belt.
After Brooks took Tirloni to the ground with a power double-leg to start round two, a scramble ensued and Tirloni threw a knee that caught Brooks right on the cup. Brooks recovered and continued to dominate the fight.
The performance solidifies Brooks as one of the top prospects in MMA. He went 6-0 to begin his career here in Chicago, with all six fights ending in a TKO or submission win.
Last August, Brooks ventured out of state for the first time and fought ‘The Ultimate fighter’ vet Drew Dober. Brooks went to the judges’ scorecards for the first time in his career and earned a unanimous decision victory over Dober.
Brooks popped into the national spotlight after his New Year’s Eve win at DREAM 18 over Satoru Kitaoka. He stopped Kitaoka — a veteran of over 50 pro fights — in the second round.
“Remember the name Will Brooks!”, said Mauro Ranallo, who called the action for that fight.
“I will not forget that name, that guy put on a clinic here on how to defeat a leg-lock monster,” added analyst Stephen Quadros.
Brooks moves on to the semifinal round of the lightweight tournament and will face Saad Awad, who needed just :31 to knock out Guillaume DeLorenzi in his opening round match.