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Michael Johnson and Jonathan Brookins are expecting different fighters on Saturday

When Team Georges St. Pierre members Jonathan Brookins and Michael Johnson square off to crown the Ultimate Fighter 12 champ on December 4th, it’ll mark the eighth time in 17 tournaments that teammates have battled for the crown.

Despite being on the same team for six weeks, getting helped by the same coaches, and consistently sparring against one another, both men are prepared for a new challenge in the finals.

“It was nice to look back at those fights but I don’t think we’ll be the same fighters come Saturday,” said Brookins during a media call on Thursday. “It doesn’t hurt the fact that you know him well but I can’t say that it helps. It might have helped more if we fought the week after but since there has been so much time off, the guy has definitely changed.”

Johnson echoed those sentiments saying, “I trained with Jonathan for six weeks, he made me a better fighter, he knows my strengths, I know his strengths. (Training together) helps because I know his strengths but it might hurt because he’s not going to be that same fighter.”

Brookins defeated fellow teammate Kyle Watson in the semifinals of the tournament for the right to face Johnson in the finals. Johnson cornered Watson during that fight and thinks he may have picked up on some things he can exploit. “I saw some things I could capitalize on that Kyle couldn’t, mainly because of his wrestling,” said Johnson.

After the show finished filming, Brookins remained in his hometown of Orlando, Florida and continued to train at Gracie Barra Orlando, working specifically on the technical aspects of his jiu-jitsu.

Johnson meanwhile spent a few weeks with Greg Jackson’s camp. “I found myself sparring with Diego Sanchez, Clay Guida, Donald Cerrone, and doing some different things with my strength and conditioning.” When asked what Johnson had learned from coach St. Pierre on the show, Johnson credited St. Pierre for helping to improve his striking and mixing in takedowns. “The main thing I took was his shoot boxing skills and how he set up his takedowns with striking.”

Of the previous six Ultimate Fighter finals that featured teammates squaring off, the higher picked fighter has won five times. Ultimate Fighter 9 finalists, Team Bisping members, Andre Winner and Ross Pearson were not picked by coaches due to the US vs. UK format. The only fighter to win after being picked second by his coaches was Roy Nelson when he KO’d fellow Team Rashad member Brendan Schaub to win The Ultimate Fighter 10. Johnson was picked first overall by St. Pierre while Brookins was picked second.

The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale takes place this Saturday, December 4, at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. Along with the finals to crown the next Ultimate Fighter, the card features Ultimate Fighter 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar taking on Igor Pokrajac in the nights co-main event and a middleweight showdown between submission expert Demian Maia and Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Kendall Grove.


  • boomnutz says:

    i think this will be one of the better final fights of TUF, obviously Brookins has to be the favorite but I was really impressed with Johnson’s left hand in his match with Nam, i think he still has a lot of work to do, but his improvement from the prior fights (where he seemed mostly a wrestler) was what impressed me, and after training with Team Jackson, i think his improvement will continue. I was equally impressed with the ground and pound of Brookins, he really generated a lot more power than expected and has a smothering top game…Personally i think Brookins will win too many of the scrambles and probably choke him out or maybe another submission, but i’m expecting a good fight. I also like the fact that both of these guys are so young, they both should be able to improve a lot in the next few years, especially Brookins with his mindset, he reminds me of a stoner version of GSP, w/o the accent

  • MCM says:

    Brookins is still listed on Bellator’s website. Does anyone know if that situation got resolved or will we see another TUF champion unable to compete in the UFC?

  • Angry Mike says:

    Nam Phan lost because of Johnson’s take downs, even though Johnson didn’t inflict much (any?) damage once he had Phan on the ground. Brookins may not be as good as Phan in striking, but he’s good enough, and he’s better with grappling and wrestling than Phan. I don’t think Johnson can take down Brookins as easily as he did Phan, and Johnson’s too wild and sloppy with his punches. I think Brookins wins by decision, although a submission win wouldn’t surprise me.

  • mu_shin says:

    Brookins looked like a much more advanced fighter in the couple of matches I saw. Deceptive strength in the take down game, good power in ground and pound, and an almost eerie calm demeanor. Look for him to dominate on the ground, and become the next Ultimate Fighter.


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