Previously on The Ultimate Fighter, Team GSP’s Jonathan Brookins and Kyle Watson dismantled their opponents, finishing all their fights by RNC. Michael Johnson defeated his nemesis Alex Caceres. Team Koscheck’s remaining guy Nam Phan KO’d Cody McKenzie in dominating fashion. Tonight, teammates Watson and Brookins go to war while Phan takes on Johnson hoping to put an end to Team GSP’s dominance. Which two LW’s will secure a fight in the finale?
GSP decides tactically to “f**k the team.” He cannot choose sides. They will avoid each other at training, but now it is time to be selfish. It’s each man for himself. Coach Danaher sagely talks of how this fight essentially should have been the final. Kyle talks about the process of coming up into MMA. While he was into MMA when it was younger, it was not a viable profession at the time (it wasn’t as popular as it is now). He worked a real full-time job and at one point was offered to move up within the company. At that same time, he was offered a spot as a trainer in Matt Hughes’ gym. With a tough decision to make, he left all he had and took Hughes up on his offer. He’s quite surprised to be matched up with Jonathan
On Team Koscheck’s side, training has slowed down. Since only Phan is left fighting, the rest of the team is more or less hanging out around the gym all week. They’ve got some of the best coaches in the world, and they can’t reap the benefits. They’re pissed that they’re not doing anything. What’s worse, GSP brought in so many world-class coaches…and they’re stuck listening to it while Kos does nothing for them. Back at the house, Marc lets it all out and does his impression of Koscheck. And just as he’s being mocked, he creeps up into the house to catch it all first hand. Chalking up to alcohol, Kos lets it go and rounds his boys up for shots.
Brookins finds that he’s happier hanging away from the chaos of the house, keeping to himself. He’d rather find his focus alone — no cell phone, no computer. He’s proud of himself that he’s taken full advantage of his time at the house: showing up for every training session, not disrespecting the process, etc. But at the same time, he also respects Kyle. They’ve been training with each other for six weeks, and he knows that will affect the tenor of the fight. His gameplan is to simply be the quicker, smarter fighter.
Supposedly, Nam has been getting on peoples’ nerves and acting shady. His teammates claim that he’s been sneaking over to the red team trying to get the scoop on Michael Johnson. They question his motives and accuse him of talking s**t about each of them behind their backs. Nam plays innocent and wonders if they just think he’s an easy target. Personally, I don’t remember Nam saying anything, but hey, that could be fancy editing.
Dana gives the advantage to Brookins standing, but to Watson on the ground. Both are extremely talented and most guys are calling this a toss-up.
Both tentative at first, but finally exchange a flurry of jabs. A lot of bobbing and weaving, but no one is really landing shots. They briefly exchange again, each landing a few glancing blows. Brookins charges and gets Watson half on his back against the cage. Watson works up to his feet, but Brookins still has him pinned against the cage, looking for better position. No progress though, and they return to the center. Uppercut from Watson misses. Watson fakes a combo and Brookins shoots. Watson is on his back, but Brookins can’t get in his guard or mount him. Brookins can’t seem to make progress, but Watson can’t fend him off either. Finally Brookins spins to try and take Watson’s back, but can’t complete the turn. He ends up in Watson’s guard and rains down several unanswered blows to the head as the round ends.
A few weak exchanges lead to a takedown attempt from Brookins. They shuffle and Watson is on his back again with Brookins in his guard. Brookins tries to get in a few shots, but Watson does a good job and controlling Brookins. Brookins gets in the occasional jab and elbow. He tries pinning Watson down, but Watson tries to up-kick him off. Brookins loses his position, but looks for a better one on Watson’s back. Watson is half against the cage, but Brookins patiently waits for him to turn to fully mount his back. Watson turns into him instead, getting his back against the mat, elevating his hips to keep Brookins from mounting him. Brookins eventually works into Watson’s guard but it is short-lived. Watson tries to keep him back, but Brookins won’t let him up. The round ends as they scramble to their feet.
The round starts the same way as the other 2, with short jabs and a lot of weaving. They clinch again with Brookins in control. Watson gets in a few good knees. They return to the center. Big left from Watson glances Brookins’ cheek. Brookins fakes a leg kick and shoots, taking Watson down into the corner. On his knees, Watson looks to get up. Brookins keeps his shoulders down, immobilizing Watson but only temporarily. On his feet, Watosn continues to defend the takedown. Watson lands a few head shots. Brookins finally gets Watson on his back and is in his guard. He lands an occasional shot, but so does Watson. Brookins gets Watson turned sideways and sneaks some good jabs in as the round ends.
Winner: Jonathan Brookins via Decision (Unanimous)
For a fight that was so hyped, it was awfully boring. Yes, Brookins scored several takedowns, but he couldn’t do anything with the control. Even GSP says that it looked more like he was fighting not to lose, than fighting to win. He controlled the fight entirely though, enough for the win. And I will give him one thing — the guy is probably the most respectful and humble to have ever been on the show.
Back at the house, Nam is the topic of discussion yet again. Rumor has it that he takes hour long showers at night, so of course, the guys’ imaginations run rampant as to what he’s doing in there. For whatever reason, they decide to try and catch him in the act. They crack open the door and of course Nam’s in the shower. Like little girls they run off squealing with laughter. So, they’re um, laughing at Nam for doing what they’re all probably doing. Yeah, guys, thanks for wasting 5-minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.
As for Nam’s fighting, GSP believes Mike to be the better MMA fighter. He’s the best athlete on Team GSP, explosive with good transitions. He’s motivated and according to GSP, more well-prepared.
Nam pleads to the guys to just let him focus on his fighting. As the only yellow team fighter left, he needs to have a stronger mind. Even Brookins points out how wrong it is for his own teammates to not only alienate him, but to distract him the way they’ve been. The next morning, Nam goes to train — solo. The coaches are MIA, his teammates are sleeping off a late night, so he’s all alone at the gym. But at least he can keep focused.
When the team is finally assembled for training, they continue to rib on Nam. But as Kos points out…he’s the one that’s winning! They can talk all the ish they want, but guess who’s not fighting anymore — them!
As to his fighting style, Nam compares himself to a Honda Civic — not the fastest, flashiest car on the lot, but efficient on gas and reliable. The longer the fight goes, the better shot he’s got. At least he didn’t call himself the Little Engine that Could.
Going into this fight, Dana gives the edge to Nam — he’s more well-rounded and he’s got more experience than Mike. Mike thinks the abuse that Nam’s been getting from his own teammates will also be to his advantage, as it may have kept Nam distracted from training. But judging by the Nam’s fully focused appearance, he seems just fine.
Both look aggressive and Phan is the first to connect with a body kick. But Johnson gets a quick takedown. Phan rolls off his back and the return to standing. A matter of seconds before Johnson gets him back down. A few short jabs and they’re back on their feet. Kick from Johnson gets caught and he falls backwards, but is back up quick. Johnson shoots again, but Phan fends him off. Some solid exchanges from both. A head kick from Phan is checked. Johnson shoots and drives Phan back and down against the cage. Phan tries to get up, but Johnson yanks his left to keep him down. Back to standing, and Johnson shoots yet again driving into a clinch. Phan keeps backing up and Johnson peppers him. Johnson shoots, but Phan defends. They clinch and exchange a few knees. A big knee from Johnson. A huge left lands to Phan’s face and he’s bleeding, but he takes it. They clinch with Johnson in control. Nice head kick from Phan gets checked. Both are swinging big and hard. Phan tries a kick, but gets caught. Johnson keeps throwing that left and Phan just eats it. The round ends on their feet.
Fast start to the round with Phan on the offensive. Both are still swinging big. Johnson shoots but can’t get Phan down — he keeps swerving to avoid the shots. Pins him against the cage, but Phan is quick to move. Phan nails him and Johnson is rattled. But Johnson tags him with a left and gets Phan against the cage. Johnson is looking tired, just holding Phan up. They separate and exchange again, followed by a takedown attempt from Johnson that fails. Johnson ends up on his knees and Phan pounces on him landing several unanswered shots. They continue to exchange, but Phan is now landing twice as many shots as Johnson. Big uppercut from Phan lands. They seem to alternate between a resting clinch and short exchanges. Nice right jab from Johnson. Big exchange keeps Phan backpedaling, and the round ends in the clinch.
Phan first with the body kick, but Johnson returns it and gets caught. Johnson shoots for a leg and gets the slam. Johnson is in Phan’s guard, but Phan lands several good elbows to Johnson’s head. Johnson looks to mount, but Phan manages to get back up. They exchange several jabs before Johnson holds Phan in the clinch. Back to the center of the cage, Phan lands a nice shot to the ribs. Johnson pushes up on Phan again where the both alternate between knees and elbows. Johnson slips in through the legs for the throw. But Phan is quick up again. Both are dragging now throwing weaker shots. Clinching, both land a couple knees, but posture for control. Big jab exchange. Both still keep swinging big. Johnson throws in a flying knee but Phan avoids it. Straight leg from Phan is checked. The round ends with both trying to throw bombs.
Wow. What a dog fight. Crazily enough I could’ve seen this being called a draw. Dana gave the first round to Johnson. But Nam turned the second round around. But by the third round, both were equal on their feet. Johnson got the takedown, but Phan defended it. It all came down to that third round.
Winner: Michael Johnson via Decision (Split)
Hate to say it, but the clichÃ© is right. Don’t let it go to the judges. Both guys should be proud of their performances.
Again, I am a fan of Koscheck’s…but why is he making this all about him? PHAN lost the fight, why is Koscheck singing the blues because his “team” lost? Boo-freakin-hoo, Kos.
So, there it is. On Saturday we’ll see Jonathan Brookins take on Michael Johnson in the finale — LIVE on Spike!