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.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC