McGuire: Brooks Released by Bellator, Chandler Gets Title Shot in STL
Bellator is making moves that have me smiling from ear to ear as I write these words. As of yesterday, Will “Ill Will” Brooks is a free agent! With a number of UFC names having migrated to Bellator and after a rocky relationship with the company, fans can only hope that this is Brooks’ chance to compete on the highest level.
“I’m going to be honest with everybody, when I first got into this sport, I wanted to be a UFC lightweight champion,” Brooks said on a February edition of MMAFighting.com’s The MMA Hour. “That’s what I wanted to be, and I cannot lie about that. Earlier in my career, that opportunity didn’t present itself but the opportunity to fight for Bellator did, so I flipped my goals…now I want to move on to my next goal if that opportunity presents itself.”
Brooks had been with the Viacom-owned organization since 2013.
During his time there he progressed to 18-1, winning an interim Lightweight title, before capturing the undisputed championship on November 15, 2014 and defending it twice. His last appearance was as a part of Bellator 145: With a Vengeance in St. Louis last year.
Following the release of the Lightweight champion, the belt has been vacated and will be up for grabs in a bout between High Ridge, Missouri’s “Iron” Michael Chandler (who lost the title to Brooks) and Patricky “Pitbull” Freire at Dynamite II in St. Louis. Chandler is a former Lightweight champion who is 2-0 at Scottrade Center (1 KO/TKO, 1 Submission.) Could a third trip to the venue see his return to prominence?
While this will be Chandler’s first fight since Bellator 145, Freire has remained active in 2016 with back-to-back victories in January and April (KO/Decision.)
Dynamite II takes places on June 24 and will also feature one of two fights on a two-fight Bellator deal for the legendary Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as part of a court settlement before he returns to the UFC. UFC veteran Matt Mitrione will be making his promotional debut against Carl Seumanutafa that night as well.
Dynamite II Undercard
Kevin Engel vs. Chel Erwin-Davis Jordan Howard vs. Justin Robbins
Joaquin Buckley vs. Chris Heatherly Michelle Royer vs. Katy Collins Brad Jones vs. Clay Mitchell Jason Christeson vs. Jarrod Thomas (Kickboxing) Elmir Kulosman vs. Darryl Cobb (Kickboxing) Tara Walker vs. Mimi Kutzin
*The now former Bellator Heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov has been stripped of the belt due to inactivity since his first defense in April–two years ago. He has been active in his native Russia, going 3-0 (1 KO/TKO, 2 Submissions) for the country’s Fight Nights promotion.
*Minakov (17-0 overall) was surprisingly allowed to keep the championship while competing outside Bellator until now due to contract negotiations pending since the lone time he defended the title under the Bellator banner.
*Despite being stripped of the title, Minakov will remain in Bellator. He said in January,“By and large, I am not concerned where I fight, whether Bellator or the UFC. I have the desire to fight in the United States .The main thing is to respect me as an athlete, and offer the conditions that I really deserve.”