Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks is a man on a mission. He’ll even tell you so.
The American mixed martial artist has the ONE Strawweight World Title in his sights, and he took a huge step toward that goal by submitting Filipino rising star Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang in his promotional debut at ONE: NEXTGEN III in November.
That victory captured the attention of the global fan base, earned Brooks the #3 spot in the strawweight rankings, and made him a serious threat to reigning king Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, who trains with Adiwang at Team Lakay.
Brooks certainly closed out 2021 with a bang, and he plans to build off his momentum in the new year. In this interview with ONEFC.com, the former wrestling star relives his dominant victory over Adiwang, addresses some in-fight controversy, and directs choice words toward a couple of rivals in the sport.
ONE Championship: There were a lot of emotions going into your match with Lito Adiwang. Take us back to that time. What was it like for you during event week?
Jarred Brooks: Yeah, it was difficult to get there. I got [to Singapore] a day and a half before the fight, and I had to quarantine for 12 hours. And then on the weigh-in day, I just weighed in, did all my PR and media stuff the day before, and then went straight into the fight.
I got to sleep maybe eight hours out of that 48 hours. We originally lost our flight to Japan, so we got redirected to London. And then we had a 10-hour layover in London. When I said, “Pinch me, I feel like I’m dreaming,” I literally felt like I was dreaming.
ONE: How about your debut? What was it like to finally meet Lito in the Circle?
JB: Inside of the cage when I felt Lito, right when I felt him as far as grappling wise, I was like, ‘Okay, I think this is [going to be] smooth sailing for me.’
I was just literally trying to see where he was, as far as a striker. You know me, man. If I’m going against the best striker in the world, I’m going to grapple them. And if I’m going against the best grapplers in the world, then I’m going to strike them. It’s just how the game goes.
I wouldn’t say Lito was a weaker opponent than I expected, but he was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. But yeah, it was a great fight, and it couldn’t have gone any better, in my opinion.
ONE: After the layoff you had, and this being your first time in ONE, how important was that win for you?
JB: I’m not usually keen on going crazy after a win, but if I’m in a big organization, and I want to push myself to get to bigger heights as far as a fan base, then I got to make myself known. So, that’s the biggest key.
I think I have the mixed martial arts part down. It’s just mostly trying to build fans and trying to keep interacting with my fans.
ONE: By finishing Lito and being so dominant in that match, do you think that sent a message to the other ranked contenders in the division?
JB: I think everybody in the division knew who I was before I got in there. But I’m here now. So, anybody that wants to come in and test themselves, I’m willing to show them.
ONE: Recently, Mark Sangiao said to the Philippine media that Lito did not hit you in the groin. Do you have any comment about that?
JB: Well, I mean, that’s been said the whole time, right? He’s been saying that, every Filipino fan is going and saying that too.
So, I don’t want to come out in the open and say that I’m dominating somebody, but yeah, I was dominating him the whole time. I had him in a front headlock, and you can hear the cup. So I’m like, ‘What are they talking about here?’ You see my face after too. Yeah, he kicked me in the leg with a shin, but he kneed me in the groin.
Nothing against Team Lakay, okay, but it seems like every time Lito loses, they have an excuse. Like the last time with [Hiroba] Minowa, I don’t think Minowa necessarily tapped. It didn’t look like he tapped.
I dominated your boy, and I think you’re just mad about it. You want to make every excuse in the book why it happened, like why it didn’t go your way. I mean, if it happened to me, I would have still been in good graces. I would have still been like, ‘Lito, you did a good job. You went out and did your job.’
Mark is a great coach but just stick to coaching.
ONE: Now that you have a big win under your belt and entered the rankings, who is the next person you want to compete against?
JB: Minowa’s a good fight for me. He’s young. I think that would be a good test for me, fighting somebody that’s in the top four that’s compatible.
We both beat Lito. We had the same opponent, and he beat Alex Silva too. He beat two of the top guys. I think that it’s only right that we do that first and then make that pretty boy [Joshua Pacio] look a little uglier.
ONE: Speaking of the champ, having just dominated one of his teammates and hearing the comments by their coach, do you think he’ll want to gain some redemption for Team Lakay?
JB: Yeah, there is that pressure underneath him to have to win for his team. Josh has a fighting IQ, and I understand that he has a fighting IQ. But at the end of the day, this is a chess match, and I think I’ve been doing mixed martial arts – all of the mixed martial arts – more than Josh compared to his wushu background and stuff like that.
I think it will be a super exciting fight when it happens. I have to get past Minowa first. Minowa’s been doing the running game for a little while, and I’m going to Arnold Schwarzenegger him.
ONE: Put on your matchmaker cap and design your perfect 2022. How many times do you want to compete and against who?
JB: I’m one fight away from fighting Josh. I think that Minowa’s number one on the list. Then we go from there, and we got Pacio. And that’s up to him. That’s just a waiting game. I’m ready to fight right after Hiroba, if he wants to go.
But he needs to get really, really prepared. I really want to have a good fight with Josh, and I don’t want it to necessarily go the distance, but I want to feel that thing in the back of my head like, ‘Oh, yeah, this guy’s really good.’ You know?
I’m in the top three. I can do whatever I want. I feel like I’m free-range out here, man. So yeah, watch out, top five – anybody in this strawweight division. I feel like I’m a man on a mission. I’m seeing tunnel vision. I’m here for it, man.