Brookins, Johnson advanced to TUF 12 Finals
Jonathan Brookins vs. Kyle Watson
Round 1: Feeling out to start on both sides, nice jab from Jon and a solid leg kick from Kyle. Nice knee and some good punches from Kyle. Jonathan tries a leg kick of his own and takes Kyle down with the double-leg. He tries to get Kyle’s back as he stands up, but settles for pressing him against the cage and landing a knee. He goes for a single-leg, but Kyle punches him to break it up and they trade strikes on the separation. Jonathan more confident with this strikes now, and uses them to set up the single. Kyle works from half guard to butterfly guard briefly, but Jon is strong on top and gets half guard back. Jon gets some sporadic punches from the top, but Kyle makes it hard to maintain position. Jonathan makes a quick attempt at taking Kyle’s back and applying the rear naked choke, but settles for throwing some nice punches inside Kyle’s guard. The horn sounds, and it’s an easy 10-9 call for Brookins.
Round 2: Leg kick from Kyle, and he manages to stuff a takedown attempt from Jonathan, but that leads right into that lateral drop. Kyle gains the guard, but Jonathan is a bit more aggressive now in going for strikes. Kyle is able to use his legs to push Jonathan off, but Jonathan is able to get loose back control as Kyle tries to stand up, and ends ups somewhere between side and back control. Kyle works to Butterfly guard and gets some separation, but Jon keeps punching and gets back inside Kyle’s guard. Nice elbow from the bottom by Kyle, but Jonathan is clearly getting the better of the position, and getting right back in there every time Kyle tries to throw him off. Kyle fights his way back to his feet at the very end of the round, but it’s another 10-9 for Brookins.
Round 3: Kyle comes out aggressive, pushing Jonathan back into the fence, but Brookins reverses position and looks for the takedown. Kyle hits some knees and they separate, but Jonathan gets the takedown again. Kyle is seated against the fence, and works back to one knee, and eventually to his feet. Watson looks to attack the head, and lands some good punches from short range, but Jonathan gets the double-leg. Not much going on in the guard this time in terms of striking, although Kyle gets a couple of punches from the bottom. Jonathan works up to deliver a short elbow, and pins Kyle against the fence. Kyle keeps punching, but there’s not much on those, and when Jonathan punches from the top, you can see he does more damage. Brookins looks to take the back again in the closing seconds, but even without it, it’s an easy 10-9 call for Brookins.
Michael Johnson vs. Nam Phan
Round 1: The fighters exchange a couple of strike attempts before Johnson gets the double with ease. Nam strikes from the bottom and starts to look for a triangle or am bar, but Johnson lets him up and takes him down again. This time, Johnson drops some elbows from the top before letting Nam up. Johnson goes down when Nam catches his foot, but gets up quickly in his own right. We’re back to a striking exchange now, and Johnson gets the better of it, including a nice left uppercut. Johnson uses his reach to keep Nam at bay, then gets another double-leg. Nam stands up again, and tries to use kicks to negate Johnson’s reach advantage. The striking is even for a while, and Nam gets his first successful takedown defense. Unfortunately for him, Johnson takes advantage of the position with his most effective striking yet, getting Name against the fence and doing damage from close range. Nam is cut near his right eye. Good dirty boxing from Johnson. Nam keeps trying the kicks, but Johnson’s blocking every time. He catches the foot off a kick, and pushes Nam back to do some more damage against the fence. The round ends with little fanfare, but it’s a 10-9 for Johnson.
Round 2: Johnson tries to close the distance again and lands the right jab. He pushes Nam back into the fence again, but Nam avoids doing much damage. Nam is doing a much better job of avoiding dangerous situations, using better positioning in the cage. Nam gets one of his classic big body shots, and while Johnson responds some of his own offense, you can see it did damage. Nam gets pushed back into the fence again, but he does damage with a knee, and stuffs the takedown. Johnson’s next takedown attempt gets stuffed and Nam winds up on top. He does a nice job of striking from the top before letting Johnson up. Michael keeps driving Nam back into the fence, but he’s not doing nearly as much damage thee. Another left to the body from Nam, and a knee there lands as well. Now Nam goes upstairs and lands some good combinations to the head. Johnson drives him back again, but now it’s more to stop Nam’s attack than to land any of his own offense. Johnson uses his reach to keep Nam at bay, jabbing as much as he can, and lands a nice left hook. With 30 seconds left, Johnson starts letting his hands go, and puts Nam against the ffence again, but the last 10 seconds are spent not doing much against the cage, and it’s a pretty likely 10-9 for Nam.
Round 3: Nam comes out with the kicks, and catches one of Johnson’s but Michael gets a good grip on the single. Nam tries a flying triangle choke, but lands in guard and starts striking from the bottom. Johnson lets him up and lands more punches against the fence. Johnson does a good job following Nam and hitting him as he tries to separate. Nam lands another body shot, and Johnson presses him against the fence. Nam with a knee and some inconsequential punches, but Michael finally gets his takedown. Nam strikes from the bottom again and does a good job separating without giving up his back. Nam does a good job on the first striking exchange, but Johnson gets the territorial advantage off the second, and lands a hard knee to the stomach. Koscheck complains about Johnson grabbing Nam’s shorts, but Josh Rosenthal contradicts him. Good combination from Nam, who stuffs another takedown, but Johnson works inside with another left uppercut and goes for another takedown. Nam fights it off, but another nice punch combination and a knee from Johnson. Both fighters go for a takedown at the same time in the last 30 seconds, but the final seconds are all about striking, with each man landing a couple of good shots. It’s a tough round to call.
As the fight is recapped, the main points are the second and third rounds. The second, of course, saw Nam keep the fight on his feet, which helped him do damage, and Dana thinks that Johnson got through that round on “heart and balls.” The last round, Koscheck wasn’t impressed by Johnson’s takedowns, saying that he just tried to grind out the win like his coach, GSP. Did it work? The judges are taking their time totaling everything up, and Koscheck and Johnson exchange words. Koscheck claims that “takedowns don’t score…not when you don’t do damage.” Funny, I think I remember hearing something about that before on this show. As I recall, the wrestler won.
But enough about the past.
Before the announcement is given, Dana praises the fighters for a great fight, and rightly so. Best fight at the UFC Training Center in at least two seasons, maybe more, but that’s just my opinion. It’s a split decision: 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28 for your winner: Michael “The Menace” Johnson.