Will Brooks got back home from training at American Top Team and immediately saw his fiancée. The developments of the day -- he had just fulfilled a goal of signing with the UFC -- were just beginning to set in.
"She was just smiling, laughing," Brooks told MMA Fighting on Wednesday, hours after he put his name on the dotted line. "I broke down into tears, man. Straight up broke down into tears. There's a lot of work that has been put into this. Of course, as I said, the work isn't done, but just to be able to have my foot in the door, to be pointed in the direction that I want to go to, to get that lightweight title -- of course you gotta put the work in before -- to see that I'm here now, it's just overwhelming and it's an amazing feeling. I wish everybody could feel like this every day."
Brooks, the former Bellator lightweight champion, was let go by the promotion last month. He wasn't upset then. Just the opposite. Brooks wanted to be in the UFC, and let everyone know it on Twitter, even when he was on the Bellator roster, carrying the Bellator title.
Some said the public disclosure crippled Brooks' bargaining power as a free agent. Yet he got what he wanted anyway: a long-term deal with the world's leading mixed martial arts promotion. Brooks said he let his manager Monte Cox worry about leverage and negotiations, while he focused on training.
"It worked out for me, because I deserved it," Brooks said. "I'm blessed. I was given what I deserved."
Brooks (18-1) won't waste much time getting into the Octagon. He'll face Ross Pearson at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale on July 8 in Las Vegas. Pearson's original opponent, James Krause, pulled out this week due to family reasons.
"Ill Will" knew he'd be let go by Bellator last month, but no other promotion could sign him until Wednesday. The UFC didn't waste any time inking one of the top lightweights in the world to a contract.
"To have them jump on board so quickly and get it done so quickly and not take time about it, it lights a fire," Brooks said. "It makes you want to go out there and really show, man you guys did not make the wrong decision. The Will Brooks business is always good. For them to buy in has just been amazing. I'm just ready to get to work and prove to them what I have and what I can do."
Brooks, 29, said he has been working hard at ATT on his finishing ability. The Chicago native has dominated opponents in Bellator, but only finished once in his last four fights. He's looking to stop Pearson in his UFC debut and make a statement.
"Knowing that Ross Pearson is a very tough guy, if Plan A does not work, I will just flat-out dominate him that whole fight," Brooks said. "Every single minute. Every second of every round. I'll just have to dominate him. And if he presents an opportunity, I will take him apart. I will take him down and he will have a very short night."
The short-notice nature of the fight -- it's in just three weeks -- does not deter Brooks. He said he's always training -- training to prepare for an eventual training camp. He'll turn it up now and be more than ready for International Fight Week, he said.
"I'm a weapon," Brooks said. "You're not gonna let your sword all dull and then when the battle breaks out you're swinging this dull ass blade, while these guys are running around with razor-sharp blades and axes. You've gotta be prepared at all times. I'm ready to go."
With the way he was feeling Wednesday, the emotion might carry him all the way to July 8.
"A dream come true," Brooks said. "Of course there's more work to be done. But I'm just on Cloud Nine. I don't know if there's clouds higher than that. If there is, then I'm on those clouds. You know what I'm saying? I'm all jacked up right now."