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It’s fair to say things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for Will Brooks over the last few years.
The American Top Team product (20-5 MMA) exploded into the MMA consciousness while with Bellator, where he shocked Michael Chandler via split decision to win the lightweight title in 2014, then finished him in the rematch to cement his spot at the top of the division. Two more title defenses saw Brooks’ stock go sky high and left him eyeing a move to the UFC, where he was hopeful of becoming a serious contender.
But the best-laid plans can go awry and, after arriving in the UFC in 2016 with a fair degree of fanfare, Brooks endured a torrid time with the world’s top promotion. His time with the UFC eventually ended after a hat-trick of successive submission losses – kicked off by defeat to an unrepentantly overweight Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira – and Brooks headed for pastures new with the PFL.
Brooks’ luck didn’t improve too much with PFL, either, as his hopes of success in the organization’s 2018 lightweight season were dashed on a first-round tiebreak after fighting to a draw with Rashid Magomedov in the quarterfinals.
And this weekend, some five years after he claimed Bellator championship gold, Brooks’ luck hit yet another bad beat in the Asian gambling capital of Macau.
Brooks was all set to face Abel Trujillo in the main event of Battlefield FC 2 in Macau on Saturday but, after Trujillo’s arrest over sexual exploitation charges, Brazilian veteran Gleison Tibau stepped in.
And when the pair met in the cage, it all went wrong again for Brooks.
With the pair up against the fence, Tibau attempted to lock up a guillotine choke. Brooks, stuck in a sitting position and shoved up against the cage, appeared relatively unconcerned and seemed happy to ride out the hold and let the Brazilian burn out his arms.
But one man who was concerned, however, was the referee, who stepped in and waved off the contest, awarding the bout to Tibau in the process.
To say Brooks was gobsmacked would be an understatement. His open-mouthed, eye-bulging incredulity was there for all to see as he reacted to the premature finish. Even the commentary team were stunned as they asked aloud: “The referee called it?!”
We can only guess what the referee saw to convince him to call the fight. There certainly wasn’t a tap, and we couldn’t hear anything verbal from Brooks. The only thing that might have convinced the referee to step in was the moment Brooks relaxed his arms a little and let them ride a couple of inches down Tibau’s legs. But he certainly seemed fully conscious and aware of what had just happened when the referee called off the bout and sent him to the fifth defeat of his career.
As Blues legend Albert King once sang: “If it wasn’t for bad luck, you know I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” And, after seeing his latest fight prematurely stopped like that, few would blame Brooks for singing the blues on his flight back home from Macau this weekend.
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