The two top prospects from The Ultimate Fighter Season 12, Michael Johnson and Jonathan Brookins, faced off inside the Octagon on Saturday, December 4. At stake was a six-figure contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
After three rounds Brookins was declared the winner by unanimous decision. The 25-year old fighter left the cage with a 13-3 record, the six-figure contract and a lot of work to do if he wants to compete at a high level in the UFC.
Brookins dominated Johnson on the ground in rounds two and three. He showed a good deal of wrestling skill in his takedowns and his ground game was strong, but his stand-up game showed some huge weaknesses.
Brookins approached Johnson with his hands low and his head held straight up. With his chin exposed and not a very strong defensive posture, he clearly lost the first round to Johnson.
A more seasoned fighter with strong wrestling defence will be able to keep the fight upright and that will prove problematic for Brookins. With his chin exposed as much as it was in the “TUF” finale, a veteran opponent will hurt him.
One thing that Brookins has going for him is a good attitude and the knowledge that he has a lot to learn on his journey into mixed martial arts' big leagues.
"It's a crazy journey," Brookins told MMA Junkie. "Every day is a learning process. I don't want to be my hardest critic, but I just see so much that I have to improve on in order to be really competitive in this game.
After the fight, Brookins was aware of his weakness. "I knew he (Johnson) had done more improving in the standup than I did during his time in the house. I still have a lot of improving to do in that area. I just really tried to maintain focus and get it to my area and where I felt more comfortable."
One thing that Brookins will need to work on is adjusting his game plan and focus as a fight progresses. He beat Johnson because he was better than him on the ground. When he faces UFC fighters, he will be facing well-rounded fighters that will not always have exploitable weaknesses like Johnson did.
For Jonathan Brookins, the journey is just beginning; how far he gets is up to him and his willingness to better himself.