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Will Brooks: 'I just don't feel like Rampage is worth it'

Will Brooks returns for the first defense of his Bellator lightweight title this weekend. In the run up, he's talking about the UFC's Reebok deal, the Rampage situation, and his opponent, Dave Jansen.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Bellator is back in action with one of their best cards of the year this Friday, April 10th. The show features former heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov, a surefire action bout between Joe Schilling and Rafael Carvalho, and the return of dynamic Polish grappler Marcin Held. All of that is less important than the main event, however, when recently crowned (and now undisputed) lightweight champion "Ill" Will Brooks makes the first defense of his Bellator title, taking on longtime veteran Dave JansenJansen has been pretty vocal, calling out Brooks as an pretender to the throne and insecure champ, Brooks was eager to respond to those allegations and talk about a lot more, in a recent interview with Bloody Elbow.

Dave Jansen has talked about you being an insecure champion and that he sees your "scared inner child" what do you think about the idea that you don't believe you deserve the belt?

"What kind of sense does that make. That shows... that's dumb. That shows me that he's trying to reach and find reasons, to try and find something to hold against me; just trying to find some type of weakness in me. Why would I be afraid of people thinking that I don't deserve the belt? I put in so much work and go to the gym day in and day out. Break my neck, sacrifice so many things, move all the way out Florida, away from my family, away from my friends, to work hard and get this belt, and then believe that I don't deserve it? What sense does that make? It makes no sense at all. But, it just shows me that he's trying to manipulate the situation and maybe help himself mentally, be weird, whatever. I'm not worried about that."

You're a guy who's on social media a lot, and who's pretty unguarded with his opinions when it comes to MMA or just life in general. have you found that to be a problem in your career? A benefit?

"No, I don't really think it's done much of anything. I think it's just me being me and people recognize that. At this time, in the society that we live in right now, I think that people are looking for people to be real, be yourself. This sport offers opportunities to be a fan of the sport and be a fighter and be an individual. So, I've just been pretty much being myself and I've had some good reactions and I've had some negative reactions to it. I think that's how it goes with anything. I think as far as Bellator the organization, I think they're really happy with the direction that I'm going in and they've showed me nothing but support. So, I'm not too worried about anything."

So, Rampage lost the first leg of his court battle with Bellator and got pulled from UFC 186. What do you think about Bellator taking Rampage to court?

I just don't feel like Rampage deserves that type of attention.

"Yeah, I actually just saw that this morning. You know, in my personal opinion, and some people may take it positive or negative or however they feel about it, but I personally think Bellator should just wash their hands of the whole thing. Just move forward. And I'm not saying Bellator's in the negative or anything like that, but I just don't feel like Rampage is worth it at this point. It's very very clear that he's just trying to chase money and chase fame and chase opportunity and things like that. He's not really talking about being a champion or being, like being somebody that's going to be a good role model in this sport for other fighters that come along. I think Bellator should just move on, you know? I think they should move on, because that contract and that whole situation was something that had to do with the previous regime and nothing to do with where we're going, the direction that Bellator is going in now. I just think they should wash their hands of it. I just don't feel like Rampage deserves that type of attention."

Will Rampage be as bad for Coker as Alvarez was for Rebney?

"I don't think so. Coker will do the right thing, go about doing things the proper way, rather than just kind of basing it all off of being emotional. I think that's what happened with Rebney and that whole Alvarez thing was because there was a lot of emotion that was going into that. And plus, Coker... I don't believe that Coker was around when Rebney signed Rampage's contract with Bellator. So, he's not emotionally invested in this, he doesn't have to be. So, he can go about dealing with it in a professional manner. I think it will all get figured out."

Are you glad tournaments are gone?

"I personally started realizing that now that the tournament is gone, I think a lot of guys are healthier. We don't have as many injury issues, because guys aren't having to fight three or four times in a month or in a year, whatever. It's just tiny little things like that. So, it's beneficial in many ways."

Has the UFC's Reebok deal driven more sponsors to Bellator and to you, personally?

You know, it's beneficial for the Bellator fighters, it's beneficial for me.

"Yeah, I've had a handful of sponsors approach me. I recently signed with Dethroned and we're actually working on a new relationship with them and should actually release my signature T-shirt with Dethroned. I've had a handful of different sponsors come along after that whole thing happened. You know, it's beneficial for the Bellator fighters, it's beneficial for me, and it's really... Along with that, I think it's exposed a lot of things. I think it was going to happen eventually, just because, prior to the management/sponsorship change for the UFC, I think there was a lot of sponsors that was kind of getting frustrated with the sponsor tax that the UFC had placed. I know they were getting frustrated with that, having to pay a sponsor tax, and then having to turn around and pay the fighters. So, I think, over time, given a little bit more time even if the Reebok deal didn't happen, I think the sponsorship in the UFC would have started moving towards different outlets, just because it's very hard to want to pay that sponsor tax and then just turn around and pay the fighters. It's one of those things that probably would have happened down the road at some point."

You're relatively early in your career to have a major belt around your waist. What are your long term plans?

"Yeah I mean, I plan on being around... Like, my blueprint, I've got 7 more years in this sport, and I keep working every single year, every single fight. I'm just trying to build something that can be sustainable after mixed martial arts. I'm trying to build something that, it's gonna hold for years to come after I'm done with this sport. Because, I have to think about my future and that's something I'm really focused on. That's that I've been putting the right pieces in the right places. I guess that's why I've tried my best to make sure I was prepared to make such a quick push to get where I am right now. You have to really do this, because your window as an athlete in this sport is very small, so you have to make the most of it in the time you have. That's what I'm trying to do. I'll continue to do that into the future and make sure that once my time is up with mixed martial arts that I can say I was the best lightweight to ever step foot in the sport, or you know, in the conversation for the best lightweight, whatever. I'll be able to financially be stable, I've got different projects going on in my life. That's my motivation. I'll continue to push forward down the road."

One final question. Your last fight was your title bout against Michael Chandler. That fight had one of the weirdest endings I can remember in a long time. What did you think in the moment? Did you know what was going on when Chandler reacted the way he did?

"That threw me off, just watching the guy kinda, eyes glazed over, spaced out, and waving his hands.

I knew what had happened. I threw it. I landed that punch. And I recognized what was going on. The only thing I didn't... What kinda caught me off guard, is when he was backing up waving his hands, like, waving off the fight. I've never seen that before. That was very confusing to me. That kinda threw me off and made me start thinking of different things, of different scenarios. "Did I poke him in the eye? Did I cheap shot him?" That threw me off, just watching the guy kinda, eyes glazed over, spaced out, and waving his hands. Honestly, I've never seen that before. That kinda threw me off. But, overall, I felt like, when I landed the punch I knew it was a solid shot, but I didn't expect that reaction. It is what it is and I'm looking forward to going out here and continuing my defense of this title. Maybe go out here and be able to finish Dave Jansen."

You can find Brooks on Twitter: @illwillbrooks86

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