We are just two days away from the begining the SporfightX's Redline Lightweight Grand Prix. SportfightX: Undefeated will take place at the Georgia World Congress Center Saturday night. William "SoCo" McAlister inspected every fighter in the Southeast to find the best undefeated amateur/pro fighters in the Lightweight division. The Redline Lightweight Grand Prix will start this weekend and the finals are set for the end of the year. The winner gets to keep his undefeated record and claim himself one of the best fighters in the Southeast. Along with those prestigious accolades the winner will receive a four fight contract with SportfightX. I wanted to talk with each of the competitors before the tournament and get a feel of who they are. This is a major step up in competition for all these guys and there is no easy road to the final.
Emanuel "EJ" Brooks is 6-0 as an amateur that trains in St. Louis, Missouri. He wrestled for Missouri in college and is friends with Strikeforce star Tyron Woodley. SportfightX.com has a really nice article on him:
Even with his humble background EJ "The Pretty Boy" Brooks carries a level of confidence that borderlines cockiness that flows out in his interviews and fights. "I'm 6-0 in MMA all wins in dominating fashion. I've never lost a round, wasn't hit in 3 fights, never been hit more than 4 times in a fight, former Mid-West Fight league Lightweight champion and MOST Importantly...I still look good after All my fights.." he says with a cheesy smile.
Eveezy: Why have you chosen to work with special needs children?
Brooks: Eventually I want to be a teacher, but this is a way to pursue that career. I didn't want to commit myself fully due to me MMA career. So I figured working with these children help me decide if this is something I really want to do. If my MMA career takes off, I won't have to quit my teaching job.
EVeezy: Why is your mother such an influential part of you life?
Brooks: She was the only person I really had besides my brothers and sisters. When my mom gave birth to me she was 14 in a foster home. I was raised in a foster home with my mom. When we went out, everyone thought she was my big sister. Now people think were dating. She is my best friend and actually a role model in my life. She is the strongest person I know. I have watched her pull off miracles. She raised four kids al by herself! She had four kids by the time she was 22 I have my college degree, I have a brother and sister, that are both working on their college degree. We all have been raised by a good parent.
EVeezy: As a black fighter that competes in MMA which is predominately a white sport, have you experienced any road blocks in your MMA career that have prevented you from competing or getting sponsorship deals?
Brooks: Oh No. Absolutely not. Coming from wrestling, it is easy to make the transition to MMA because they are so similar. I was raised in the hood, you like a bad place. I have been fighting since I was five years old man. I was an elite wrestler so I know how it is dealing with elite competition. This is nothing to me.
EVeezy: You talked about an incident on Facebook where you ran into "Ohio hillbillies" would you care to elaborate on that?
Brooks: Yeah I was at a bar in Ohio and I was in the building with some of my friends. I was doing a wrestling camp out there. And these guys, you know walking into the bar with their Affliction shirts on. By the way I have nothing against that, I got nothing against guys who advertise fight brands or whatever. I am just not that type of guy. I'm not one of those guys who go out and tell people that I am a fighter, I tell them I used to wrestle. I am not the type of person that brags about what I do and promote myself as a tough guy. I want everyone that fights me to think that I am a p****. That is why my nickname is the "pretty boy" because you think that I am a pretty guy and don't like to get hit. I want to let you think I don't want to brawl. Then once I put hands on you, you're going to be like "what the f***?" People don't understand my track record, I'm serious. If you actually hit me, it's probably going to be bad for you. All you're going to do is piss me off. I fight for a reason and you don't fight because you're afraid to get hit. I take the fight to people. Back to the original question. I was in the bar and these guys were sizing me up and talking and stuff. They dropped the n-word and stuff because they wanted me to go outside and fight them. I'm bigger than that, so I was just like Ohio hillbillies just being stupid.
EVeezy: Do you take pride knowing that you have an undefeated record along with the fact that you have never lost a round?
Brooks: Yeah. It just shows that I dominate. I don't like leaving fights in the judges hands. I have seen to many fights where obviously wining fights and it came down to the judges and they got screwed. I take pride in the fact I dominate fights, I finish fights. I love taking the fight to my opponent. I learned all that from wrestling. If you let the fight go to the cards you are going to get screwed. Especially me. I think being black, I have to do more in the eyes of the judges to win rounds. In any competition in athletics most of the black guys are the guys that get screwed. People are rooting against them to lose I feel like anytime I compete people want to see me loose. They are expecting me to win, because they know I am a good athlete and they know I am tough. But they want to see me loose. I am not giving anyone room to say "if it goes to a decision I'm going to pick that guy". I'm not going to give you that opportunity.
EVeezy: A friend of mine has talked to black fighters like King Mo and they have expressed similar feeling about they way they are perceived by MMA officials. Does it give you extra motivation during the fight and during training knowing you have these detractors out there?
Brooks: Oh yeah! I know if I don't finish the fight, I have to make sue I go balls to the wall every round. If I every let up or take it easy on my opponent it gives them an opportunity to think that I lost a round. I want to make sure that everyone knows I am kicking my opponents ass and there is no way you can score it for him.
Brooks: My first year I went 30-10 and my next three years I was battling injuries. I think, it was somewhere around 65-19.
EVeezy: Compare the training aspects of wrestling and MMA.
Brooks: I would actually say wrestling is harder than MMA, especially on the Division I level. In wrestling I was cutting from about 170 to 157 and then after cutting I would wrestle a hour later. The next day I would have to make weight again and wrestle again. With MMA I make my weight cut and I have so much time to rehydrate that it is much easier on my body. I think that is a benefit of being a wrestler, knowing how to weight cut and compete. Also with MMA I am typically on my own schedule, in college coaches pretty much dictate what you do. I feel much more motivated to train MMA then I did at times training wrestling. If you want to train you can do it on your own time, in college it is on the coaches schedule. When something is forced down your throat it eventually gets old and you have to get yourself up to do it. 6am practices, two-a-days of wrestling. I mean how many people can you think of that would want to do that everyday?
EVeezy: Mid-Westerns' have this reputation of being very tough fighters. What was your experiences like coming up through the amateur ranks?
Brooks: I have fought so really tough guys in my amateur days. But you know I fought most of my career at 170 because nobody wanted to fight me at 155. They knew my wrestling background and knew where I was from. So I was fighting guys that were twice my size and on top of that I was murdering these guys. I'm bragging now too huh? I was fighting these guys and destroying them. I have fought good guys and my record speaks for itself.
EVeezy: Talk about your cardio training.
Brooks: My cardio is good. I have had a few fights that have ended in a decision I was always still fresh I never gassed. I train cardio so hard that none of my opponents can question it. Yo don't win a round by laying ontop of someone not doing anything. My cardio is great! I prefer to finish my opponents as soon as possible so I can go out and have myself a Coors.
EVeezy: In preparation for this fight are you eating McDonalds' and other fast foods?
Brooks: (Laughs) Hell No! I'm actually having a craving right now. I am cutting weight watching the hours pass, wishing I was eating some White Castle. After the fight I am definitely getting a burger and a milkshake.
EVeezy: Did you see Gerald Harris' slam at UFC 116?
Brooks: Yeah i did see that.
EVeezy: When you watched it live what were your immediate thoughts?
Brooks: To be honest that looked like something I would do.
EVeezy: Are you a big soccer fan at all?
Brooks: Yes I played soccer in high school. A lot of my friends get on me about that. And yes my heart was broken when Brazil lost. Brazil is my favorite team and my favorite player is Kaka. Right now I don't even what to watch the World Cup. I am rooting for Uruguay I guess. It sucked because Brazil lost and damn I guess I am going to root for Ghana then, but then they get knocked out! I just don't want to see Spain win it.
EVeezy: Switching over to Basketball where do you think LeBron goes?
Brooks: Oh man! You know what is funny I have been more worried about where LeBron is headed rather than my upcoming fight. I'm a huge LeBron fan, I mean huge Lebron fan. I root for the Bulls, but I really like Lebron. And if you are a Bulls fan why would you not want LeBron? LeBron is the new Jordan man. I honestly think he is going to stay in Cleveland and the Raptors are going to trade Chris Bosh to Cleveland. This is my Miss Cleo prediction LeBron is staying in Cleveland and Chris Bosh will do a sign and trade with Cleveland. I'm telling you.
EVeezy: Let's talk about your opponent Eric Kriegermeier for a minute. Do you have a gameplan going into this fight?
Brooks: No, I don't believe in having a gameplan before the fight. Mike Tyson always said, somebody always has a gameplan until they get hit. I go into every fight with the same mentality, I am going out there to impose my will. One of my sponsor is impose will. I go out there and do what I do, if for some reason it isn't working I will switch it up. When you come in thinking a guy is going to do a certain thing and when he doesn't do that you're left thinking what the hell. I am training to be the best fighter I can possibly be so I am going out there to do what I do best. I respect him, but I am not worried about what he brings to the table. I know what I bring to the table and I am going to lay it all out there and let him eat it.
EVeezy: What was your immediate reaction when you found out Eric Kriegermeier was going to be your opponent?
Brooks: I think every fighter in this tournament should feel that they can win. If you don't feel like you should win then you shouldn't be here, or maybe you should be the person I fight in the first round.This guy looks very disciplined, looks like he has got a good work ethic. He sounded like he was very respectful and I was like man I don't want to fight a good guy. I feel I can beat everybody I fight. It is hard for me to fight guys like him because i can't dislike this guy. If I was fighting a guy like Dustin Center I would be like great! I want to punch this dude in the face. He runs his mouth, nothing against him, but that is what he likes to do. It is easier for me to fight a guy like that. I don't know Dustin Center so I can't talk trash about him, I'm just saying if I had to fight Dustin Center it would be a whole lot easier than fighting Eric Kriegermeier. When I fight Eric I don't have that extra fuel to sike myself up. I think Kriegermeier is more of a threat to me than most guys in the tournament. I mean as soon as we get out there and he hits me with something I will have more than enough motivation to take this guy out.
EVeezy: I asked Eric and what he though about your nickname the "pretty boy" and he told me no disrespect toward you, but having a name like that it is like having a billboard on there face reading hit me.
Brooks: (Laughs) I like that. I am hoping he is going to come out and try to hit me. I told you, I want that perception as the pretty boy who doesn't like to get hit. Then you get suckered into exchanging with me. Some guys see big strong black guys and think to themselves I'm going in there to throw with him. When fighters start looking at him and thinking I don't like to get hit, they don't know that I just suckered them in. Oh yeah come on, come knock me out and I will show you what I am working with. I love it, I love it after they try and stand with me and can't and try to grab me. It's like they forget I'm a wrestler. I probably told you to much already... (Laughs)
EVeezy: Let's talk about your ground and pound a little bit. From what I have seen you have strong hips and have good posture in the guard. You throw your punches from odd angles and with good power.
Brooks: I love to ground and pound. It is very satisfying. I don't really get to unleash in practice, so when I get into my fights I am ruthless. Ask my opponents they will all tell you I am the hardest person they have ever fought. I have hit all my opponents harder than any fighter they have ever faced. I just love it. If you cover your head I am going to your body and vice versa. There is no way out of it. You can tap, but that is about it.
EVeezy: What was it like winning the the Mid-West Fight League belt?
Brooks: It was great I had a few goals before I turned pro. I wanted to be 5-0 before I turned pro, I wanted to win a belt, and I wanted to fight a black dude. (Laughs) So I accomplished that all in one fight! It was really cool because the black guy was 12-2 and he was on a 6 fight knockout streak. He had beaten two good wrestlers before me and was telling everybody he was going to knock me out. He only hit me three times that whole fight, but everytime he hit me I could feel it. I had him in a few submissions and he told me during the fight I head to break his arm because he wasn't tapping. I won the belt by dominating every round.
EVeezy: Talk about winning a local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament and your BJJ game as a whole.
Brooks: We had this big in school tournament in Nebraska where they brought a lot of the best guys from all the gyms around here. I was really excited about wining it because I didn't win the tournament just by wrestling. A lot of wrestlers that compete in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments just like to win on points and stay away from submissions. Winning the tournament really showed how far I have come as a fighter. When I started fighting I could take guys down, but I couldn't submit people. Now I can submit some really good Jiu-Jitsu guys, I have really come a long way. I train with Purple, Brown, and Black belts they can't submit me from their guard. I'm going to be raining bombs on Eric Kriegermeier and he is going to submit me when guys at my gym can't? That's all I am saying. It's unlikely, but if it happens I am not going to be surprised because I respect his Jiu-Jitsu. If he does it though he is a bad dude, I will tell him that after the fight too.
EVeezy: After your fight with Eric Kriegermeier will EJ Brooks still be pretty?
Brooks: I hope so. I mean that is the plan to win my fight and me a hot lady afterwards and have a good evening. After the fight if I don't look pretty but I still win, I can live with that! Sometimes you got to get down and dirty. I would prefer to look nice at the after party, but that's just me.
EVeezy: Any sponsors you would like to thank?
Brooks: Right now my only sponsor is Impose Will. St. Charles MMA is a great school, if you live in St. Louis you should come train with us. Shout out to my boy Tyron Woodley and Ashley Cummings, she helped me get on the card.