Exiting Bellator Champ Will Brooks signs with UFC, meets Ross Pearson at TUF 23 Finale

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Will Brooks

Exiting Bellator Lightweight Champion Will Brooks has signed with the UFC, and he’ll make his UFC debut on July 8 at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale against Ross Pearson.

MMAJunkie.com was the first to report the news.

Brooks, who captured the vacant Bellator Title with two straight wins over former Champ Michael Chandler following Eddie Alvarez’s exit for the UFC, had been publicly complaining about his lot in Bellator for several months, and was finally granted an early release from his contract. He’ll now get his opportunity to prove himself as a top lightweight against competitors in the Octagon.

Pearson was originally scheduled to face James Krause on the July 8 card in Las Vegas, but Krause was forced to withdraw from the event this week. The Ultimate Fighter season nine winner has alternated wins and losses over the last two years, and he enters this event off a win over Chad Laprise in March.

The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale takes place from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and will be headlined by the UFC Strawweight Championship bout between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha.

Penick’s Analysis: That’s a fantastic signing for the UFC. Brooks is where he belongs, and he gets to prove that right off the bat against a tough, durable veteran in Pearson who represents a nice gate-keeping test. The 29-year-old Brooks brings an 18-1 record with him, and he was clearly Bellator’s best lightweight upon his exit after Eddie Alvarez left. If he gets a chance to make a quick run up the ranks, he may prove himself in that elite conversation in a crowded and competitive field.

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