EJ Down Under
Back in December, a panel of St. Louis MMA experts voted EJ Brooks as the region's 2017 National Pro of the Year. This week, Brooks is on the hunt for his second win in 2018 in the land down under.
"The Pretty Boy" will be looking for his fifth straight victory on Saturday when he faces Steve Kennedy (24-8, eight KO's, 10 subs, six dec.) on the main card of Absolute Championship Berkut 88: Silva vs. Camozzi in Brisbane, Australia. Brooks should expect the boo birds to be out in full force when he faces the Aussie. Kennedy, who is making his ACB debut, had a cup of coffee in the UFC, losing two fights in 2015.
"I've started winning again and dominating good guys," Brooks said "I've trained hard and worked with a lot of people for this fight. I'm focused on being the best ACB fighter in my weight class."
The 32-year-old Brooks is 12-5, and his passport has been getting a workout. He made his ACB - a Russian MMA, kickboxing and BJJ organization and one of the leading promotions in Europe - debut in April with a unanimous decision over Husein Kushagov at ACB 85 in Italy.
"I like that fight a lot because I was fat and out of shape, but I knew stylistically I was a bad matchup for him," Brooks said. "I knew I was better and I went in there and squeaked out a win. I'm definitely more prepared for this fight."
Saturday will be Brook's second fight in a four-fight deal with the promotion.
"I'm happy with them," he said. "They're taking care of me right now; paying me good., they're getting me fights, and giving me an opportunity to travel the world like I've always wanted to."
Brooks' resurgence has come at welterweight after spending the bulk of his professional career at lightweight. Brooks says that he's taking smarter fights and feels much better on fight night due to not being physically drained by trying to make 155.
"I'm going to stay at '70 because I have the skill set to be able to compete with the guys up there and I'm making good money not cutting weight," Brooks said. "Everybody has height on me. They had height on me at lightweight too. The plan isn't to stay there. The plan is to go back down. But unless it's for Bellator or UFC or really big money for ACB, I don't see the point in cutting."
Brooks (10-5) started his career 7-0. The years 2012-2015 weren't kind as he lost five of his next six. But it should stand as a lesson to any younger fighter out there, he persevered, and a 2016 win for Titan FC led to a bout against Dakota Cochrane for Victory Fighting Championship 56 in April of 2017. Brooks put together one of his best performances in years, controlling where the fight took place and snuffing out Cochrane's momentum, having won nine of his last 10 up to that point, and defeating the hometown favorite. In July of 2017, Brooks returned to the Bellator for his seventh fight in the organization. Once again facing the hometown favorite in Guilherme Bomba who was riding a two-fight win streak - at Bellator 181, Brooks' high-level wrestling allowed for him to play spoiler as he earned a unanimous decision to improve to 11-5.
"I thought for sure when I beat up Bomba that it was going to lead to something and it didn't," Brooks said.
Brooks was hoping to fight on the Bellator card in St. Louis that went down in April, but a bout offer never transpired.
"The whole Bellator-St. Louis thing, I rarely take my mother's advice of 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say it all,' but I'm choosing to now," Brooks said. "Basically, I should have been on that card, and I'm going to leave it at that."
ACB 88 is headlined with Chris Camozzi vs. Thiago Silva and also features the likes of Marcin Held, Luke Barnatt, and others. For more information, visit acbmma.com.
Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA