by Matt Lo Cascio
Will Brooks dominated John Alessio in their Bellator lightweight tournament fight, blooding the UFC veteran over three rounds, earning a unanimous decision win and a rematch against Saad Awad, the only fighter to defeat him.
In his video piece before the fight, Alessio talked about how he would love the opportunity to fight Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler. He said he was too much for Will Brooks, he was going to break him and he had already won the fight. “He’s going to wish that he got paired up with one of the other seven guys in the tournament,” Alessio said.
Not only was Alessio’s math fuzzy, his assessment of Brooks couldn’t have been more wrong.
Brooks took charge early in round one by peppering Alessio with leg kicks. With 3:20 left in the round, Alessio caught a knee that Brooks threw and backed him into the cage, eventually getting the takedown and landing in side control. But Brooks easily escaped and got back to his feet, then landed some quick uppercuts that cut Alessio.
Alessio tried to jump into a guillotine on Brooks, but when he closed guard and hit the ground, Brooks easily broke free and initiated some ground and pound to end the round.
The pace slowed a bit in round two, but Brooks again used leg kicks and movement to keep Alessio off-balance and out of reach. Brooks did get to full mount at the end of the round and started to work for a choke. But he looked up at the clock and saw that time was short, so he opted instead for some strikes to end the round.
Brooks was so excited to get back at it in round three that he left his corner before the bell sounded. He used an outside trip to get Alessio to the ground and continued to batter the veteran after passing his guard. That sequence led analyst Jimmy Smith to gush about Brooks’ performance.
“I like the refinements in Will Brooks’ game. He’s showing more technical development, better opportunities with his passing, that’s something we didn’t see a lot of against Ricardo Tirloni. He’s taking these opportunities to improve his position. That’s a big improvement,” Smith said.
Brooks poured it on near the end of round three, landing three big knees that cut Alessio again and sent him down. A gruesome close-up showed him leaking blood that dripped off his face and nose and pooled on the mat. The round ended before Brooks could finish the fight.
Brooks popped his American Top Team shirt as the scorecards were read, a lopsided unanimous decision that was scored 30-26, 30-27 and the very rare 30-25.
There was a big smile on Brooks’ face when Jimmy Smith told him that he would be facing Saad Awad in the next round of the Bellator lightweight tourney, but Brooks delivered a matter-of-fact response when Smith asked how he felt about going into a rematch with Awad.
“I’m just going to enjoy this victory, man. John Alessio is a veteran, and to be able have the blessing to be out here and come and compete against him and get a W, I’m just going to enjoy this moment. When I get back to the gym we’ll start focusing on the next fight,” Brooks said.