Professionals – real professionals – do what it takes to get the job done, each and every time. There are plenty of stories about how often and how hard guys like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or Kobe Bryant would train, while others were not willing to. In business, there are people who work 12-14 hours per day, every day, hardly taking any time off, even on the weekends. When the job needs to get done, it’s all about execution.
ONE Championship strawweight MMA champion Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks is a professional mixed martial artist who is only 30 years old, and he has already fought in three of the “Big Four” promotions – the UFC, Bellator and ONE. The Indiana native grew up wrestling, and, while in college, he transitioned to MMA. He joined ONE in late 2021 with a 16-2-1 record as a pro fighter. A year later, he was 4-0 in the promotion after winning the title in Dec. 2022.
Brooks trains under head coach James Lee, and he also has been spending a lot of time training under the tutelage of Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt world champion Alex Hodi, all in Michigan. However, there are things the ONE champion does extra to prepare for his fights. Since all of his ONE fights have taken place in Southeast Asia, he begins acclimating his body through adjusted sleep cycles well in advance of his travels across the globe.
“The first time I fought for ONE, the flight got delayed on the way there, so I got there a day and a half before the fight,” Brooks told Combat Press. “I literally got there, weighed in and fought. I said, ‘that’s not ever happening again.’ So, I started getting acclimated to the time over here. That way I only have the plane ride to worry about. I usually stay in my room, turn off all the lights and sleep as much as possible. I just make sure my body is cooperating with it.”
Acclimating early is not something your run-of-the-mill fighters typically do before fight week. In fact, it is too often that fighters simply going up in altitude – like from Miami to Denver – don’t even give themselves enough time to adjust. However, Brooks is not a run-of-the-mill fighter, and he is a champion for a reason.
Brooks has been on the bench since December, and it’s not for a lack of looking. He went from clearing out four fighters in 12 months to no fights in eight months. And, he is ready fight. Brooks and his girlfriend have a daughter due in November, and he wants to get paid, so he can purchase a home for his new family.
“I’ve been wanting a fight,” said Brooks. “The fight game is really hard right now. I beat the whole division, so they’re probably working on that. They’re probably not making money off these Asian countries, because the seats are like 50 cents each, you know? I think they want to wait until these United States shows come around. I know they’re having four within the year, so, hopefully, they can land me on one of those United States cards. I also know they are having one in Qatar. Hopefully, they can get me on, and I get paid. I want my baby to stay comfy and warm in a nice house.”
Well, after several months waiting, an opportunity came along, but it wasn’t exactly what Brooks had in mind. Tonight, live on Amazon Prime Video, Brooks will be challenging BJJ phenom Mikey Musumeci for the ONE flyweight submission grappling world title.
“I thought I was going to be fighting in June,” Brooks elaborated. “I don’t know what happened to June. Then, I thought I was fighting in September. I don’t know what happened to September. Then, I got somebody calling me out, saying I’m running away from a fight. I’m like, ‘bro, you are talking to the wrong person about running away from a fight.’ I’m not even close to that. You know me, bro. I’m wanting to fight every month or every two months. The more I’m fighting, the more I’m on my game. I want three to four fights per year.
“This is a three-week-notice submission grappling match against pretty much the GOAT – besides Gordon Ryan – of submission grappling. I asked for two months, but they gave me three weeks. I want to prove to a lot of people that I’m well versed in mixed martial arts, because I’ve been doing it for a really long time. What a better way to show it than going against the best in submission grappling in my weight class?”
The multiple-time gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu world champion Musumeci first captured ONE gold in Oct. 2022 when he outworked Cleber Sousa for 10 minutes. He then took another decision victory over Gantumur Bayanduuren for his first title defense, and he followed that up with a submission of Osamah Almarwai at the promotion’s inaugural U.S. event ONE Fight Night 10 in May. “Darth Rigatoni” has established himself as one of the major faces of the promotion in a very short time. Brooks welcomes the challenge.
“I don’t think they have a lot of people who want to go against Mikey,” said Brooks. “He’s a dangerous opponent in jiu-jitsu. I have good wrestling, and I’m defensively sound in jiu-jitsu. The odds of me tapping Mikey Musumeci are very low, but I believe in myself. Like, I think I can do it, but the odds, on paper, are very low. I think If I can survive Mikey Musumeci for 10 minutes, give an exciting grappling match, and show people it isn’t boring, people will see that it’s not just butt scooting. I appreciate ONE Championship giving me this opportunity.”
Brooks realizes that he is stepping right into Musumeci’s realm, and, even with a strong wrestling background, the ONE Championship submission grappling rule set awards fighters for constantly attacking submissions. There is no stalling, guard pulling, or disengaging. In fact, competitors can lose points for this. However, Brooks is also not known for boring matches. He is very fast in his movements and very proficient in grappling. He sees this match as a door to bigger things down the road.
“Hopefully, this submission grappling match opens up the opportunity to fight someone like Demetrious Johnson,” Brooks explained. “Both Mikey and I have been in the talks about going against Demetrious. Hopefully, ONE Championship can get that circle going.
“It would be super interesting to watch Demetrious Johnson and I. We’re a hell of a match-up. We’re both very speedy. We both have a lot of strength. Our jiu-jitsu skills are good. I think my boxing is better than Demetrious Johnson’s. His kicks are a little bit more flexible, but I think my boxing would do the job. I know he trains wrestling with Henry Cejudo, but I don’t think he’s gone against somebody with a fast shot like me – somebody that can mix it up with the chain wrestling like me in mixed martial arts.”
Brooks may not be back in action in the way he envisioned. And, taking on a guy like Musumeci on three weeks’ notice is not ideal for a guy who has been training all aspects of MMA. But, the opportunity is there, he wil get paid, and he looks forward to putting on a show.
“What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I like to mix it up, but I also like to stick to my standard style of MMA,” Brooks said. “Either I’m hitting you on the feet and making you worry about a takedown, or I’m taking you down and beating the living shit out of you. That’s usually my game in mixed martial arts. What people don’t know is that when it comes to the individual martial arts, I’m really good at all of them. I just don’t show them unless I need to. If ONE Championship wants to make real money, they need American stars. I think I can be one of them.”
ONE Fight Night 13 kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video, live from the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. Brooks and Musumeci will serve as the co-main event on a stacked card.
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