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New free agent Will Brooks regrets 'negative reputation' he built on Twitter

E. Casey Leydon, MMA Fighting

There's the real Will Brooks and the Will Brooks that comes across on Twitter, the former Bellator lightweight champion said. And he acknowledges that the latter affected his relationship with his former promotion.

"If I had to be 100 percent honest, I do think some of the things I said on Twitter, the way I went about doing things was very unprofessional," Brooks told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "It wasn't in my nature. I was just consumed by a lot of things that were going on and I stepped outside of who I am as a person. It was outside of the relationship with Bellator, just seeing the things I was saying and the way I was carrying myself, it just really bummed me out."

Things between Brooks and Bellator have been up and down since Scott Coker took over the promotion in 2014, culminating in his release Saturday. Brooks will now test free agency and is hoping for an opportunity with the UFC.

Brooks was one of the best talents on the Bellator roster -- one of the top lightweights in the world, too -- and the company's lightweight champion. He took to Twitter multiple times, though, to criticize his treatment and Bellator in general.

Last September, he notably blasted Bellator execs for pushing Coker's new additions over the established stars held over from the Bjorn Rebney era. Brooks also openly spoke about wanting to test free agency on Twitter in February, saying that is perhaps why Bellator "decided not to use any resources" on him.

Brooks is glad to be a free agent and looking forward to new challenges. But he said he does regret some of the "emotional" and "impulsive" things he has tweeted in the past.

"I'm sure I upset some people with some of the things that I said and I apologize for those things," Brooks said. ... "I made a little bit of a negative reputation for myself. That's not who I am. That's not in my character. I'm just trying to get back to who I am."

Brooks, 29, said he talked with Coker recently and they worked out their differences. Bellator did offer him a new contract a few months ago, he said, but he balked, still desiring free agency.

Brooks has deleted his Twitter multiple times in the last few weeks and then brought it back. He said he'll keep the social medium around for now, but send any potential tweet to his manager Monte Cox for approval before making it public.

More than anything, though, Brooks is pleased to be in his current spot. Although it's a rare thing for a promotion to cut a champion and his leverage with other organizations could be affected by that, Brooks believes he's in a good spot.

"I'm happy it's done," Brooks said. "I appreciate them getting that done and allowing me to move forward and accomplish other goals that I've set for myself."

That main goal is winning the UFC lightweight title and that is one Brooks set for himself some time ago. Even when he was still fighting for Bellator.

"I would never shy away from that," he said. "I've let people know plenty of times and I'll continue to say that. I believe that I can go out there and beat anybody in the lightweight division of the UFC and seize that title and be the man on top. I just have that belief in my body and I have that in my bones and I can feel it. I know I can do it. If that opportunity presents itself, I will definitely seize that moment. I will take that opportunity."

Brooks (18-1), who has won eight in a row, would love to fight in his hometown of Chicago when the UFC goes there in July. But right now he's focusing on his new baby daughter and planning a wedding with his fiancée. Brooks said he'll delve into finding a new fighting home sometime in June when things start to clear up. That, however, doesn't mean he won't continue training and being prepared.

"All I can tell you is that I'm gonna be in shape," Brooks said. "Whatever happens next, I'm gonna give them the best that I've got it. Wherever I end up, whatever organization I end up with, they're gonna get the best Will Brooks that anybody has ever seen."

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