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Brookins crowned "Ultimate Fighter"

Report by Andreas Hale
Photos by Chris Cozzone

Two years ago, Jonathan Brookins was TKOed by an up and coming fighter named Jose Aldo who would go on to become one of the greatest fighters in the world today. The loss has been the bane of Brookins existence since. Upon entering The Ultimate Fighter 12 house, Brookins was known as the guy who Aldo knocked out. But on December 4th 2010, he is now known as the guy who won The Ultimate Fighter as he endured a first round storm to earn a unanimous decision victory over Michael Johnson.

“I made a decision that after the loss to Aldo that I was going to make the best of it,” the newly crowned TUF 12 winner said during the post fight presser. “It’s ironic how things work because it may be because of the loss why I made it into the house in the first place. He taught me so many lessons in that fight. He doesn’t know what kind of fan he has in me.”

But in the first round Brookins almost became the fighter that Michael Johnson wrecked on his way to a UFC contract. Johnson and his much improved standup ripped Brookins with combinations that badly hurt and nearly put the former WEC and Bellator fighter away. But Brookins would weather the initial storm and wear down “The Menace” with a grinding ground game.

“I believe what went wrong was that Mike was better than me in the first round,” Brookins said. “He definitely did a lot of improving since we were in the house. Mike always said that I hadn’t been in the cage with ‘The Menace.’ I wondered what ‘The Menace’ was like in the cage. ‘The Menace’ was legit.”

Legit he was. Johnson was close to victory but felt he could have pressed the action further to take home the contract.

“I felt real good and hit him with some big shots,” Johnson said. “He did a great job of recovering. I took a back step and didn’t take advantage. I thought I let him off the hook in the first round. I didn’t want to gas out completely and blow my wad. It’s a mistake I made on my part.”

But ultimately it was Brookins resilience and ability to stick to the game plan that led to his biggest victory in his MMA career. But now, Brookins will be thrown to the lion’s den with a loaded lightweight division that will feature both fighters from the UFC and the WEC. Regardless of how well Brookins did in TUF, he is well aware that he needs to improve his game in order to compete in the UFC.

“I don’t want to be my hardest critic but I just see so much improving I need to do to get by in this game,” Brookins said. “I feel there’s is a lot more pressure to step up in the game. That’s where my sights are set now – to improve and all areas.”

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