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Will Brooks: 'Bum' Justin Gaethje is 'trying to ride my coattail' with challenge

E. Casey Leydon, MMA Fighting

Will Brooks has been down to challenge himself against Justin Gaethje for a long time.

Two years ago, when former World Series of Fighting exec Ali Abdel-Aziz proposed a Bellator vs. WSOF card, Brooks said he was the first person to step up on Twitter and say it would be something he was interested in. If that meant Brooks vs. WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, Brooks said he was all for it.

So when Gaethje called out newly minted free agent Brooks over the weekend, Brooks was wondering where Gaethje was in 2014 when the idea of a fight first came up.

"He wouldn't say a word at all," Brooks told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "Now all of a sudden he wants to bring some attention to himself, because I guess it's like I'm Mr. Popularity right now and now he's trying to ride my coattail and get his name out there. I'm not worried about that bum. He's alright. He'll be OK."

Brooks, the former Bellator MMA lightweight champion, was released by the promotion over the weekend and is free to pursue other options. His goal is to be in the UFC, but he'll likely have other organizations interested in him as well. One of those could be WSOF where Gaethje is the 155-pound champ. Gaethje asked WSOF to make that matchup and didn't mince words about it last Saturday on Twitter.

Brooks shot back Saturday that Gaethje didn't say anything two years ago and proposed a one-fight contract with WSOF to make the bout happen. It would be the best lightweight fight outside the UFC by a wide margin. Both Brooks and Gaethje are top-10 caliber talents in the weight class.

The battle would be a dream fight for hardcore MMA fans. Brooks (17-1) has won eight in a row and hasn't lost since 2013. Gaethje (16-0) holds an undefeated record and is known for being perhaps the most exciting pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

The bout probably won't happen. Brooks is focused on challenging himself in the UFC and the leading MMA promotion would be silly not to sign someone of his caliber.

Brooks, 29, would never back down from a fight with Gaethje. He was just surprised about the timing of the profanity-laced callout.

"You ever notice that everybody has got something to say when they think that you're down, when they think that you might be in a bad place?" Brooks said. "Then all of a sudden they've got something to say."

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