This coming Saturday night, former Bellator champion Will Brooks has a chance to really make an impact on the lightweight division.
Brooks will kickoff the pay-per-view main card for UFC 210 from Buffalo against Charles Oliveira.
The 30-year-old from Chicago has fought twice before inside the Octagon, besting Ross Pearson and losing to Alex Oliveira. But this marks his first “big-time” chance to compete on PPV.
And he needs to do so in impressive fashion.
Brooks (19-2) arrived to the UFC with much hoopla over his departure from Bellator. At the time, he was the reigning lightweight champion, having scored consecutive wins over current titleholder Michael Chandler and title defenses vs. Dave Jansen and Marcin Held.
But once Brooks made it known he planned to opt out of his contract when it was finished, Bellator decided to be pro-active, releasing him.
Some saw it as a chance for Brooks to go directly to the UFC, while others believe he lost leverage in the negotiations.
Either way, it’s been two sub-par performances for him since.
With Oliveira, though, Brooks has the chance to make his name known again. The Brazilian has lost three of his last four, but those defeats came at the hands of Ricardo Lamas, former champion Anthony Pettis and current interim champion Max Holloway.
During his career, Oliveira has scored wins over Myles Jury, Nik Lentz, Jeremy Stephens and Darren Elkins among others.
He’s no slouch, much like the last two UFC opponents for Brooks.
This is the deep water of the UFC – and the lightweight division at the moment – but Brooks has proven time and time again he can rise to the top when he is on his game.