The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12 Episode 11: “Victory’s All that Matters”

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.

FIGHT DAY

Round 1
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.

Round 2
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.

Round 3
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.

FIGHT DAY

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.

Round 1
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.

Round 2
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.

Round 3
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 cliché 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!

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12 Episode 10: “Personal”

Previously on The Ultimate Fighter, Michael Johnson got fed up with teammate Alex Caceres’ antics. In the first quarterfinal fight, Jonathan Brookins quickly took out Sako Chivitchian while underdog Nam Phan gave Team Kos a needed win when he shut out Cody McKenzie. Coming up tonight are the two remaining quarterfinal fights. Veteran Kyle Watson steps into the ring with wildcard winner Aaron Wilkinson and Michael Johnson and Alex Caceres finally get to settle their score.

At the house, Sako plays a prank, putting a rubber band on the kitchen sink sprayer. He immediately blamed Alex (who had done it previously), but alas, it wasn’t him this time.

Kyle Watson will be taking on Aaron Wilkinson in his quarterfinal fight. Aaron’s strength is his striking, but Team GSP is not particularly worried about the power behind his punches. Kyle’s game plan is not necessarily to take Aaron down, but to tie him up and keep him from striking.

Kos wants Aaron to keep the fight standing. Knowing this is his second (and probably last) chance, Aaron is motivated and feeling the pressure of representing the UK.

FIGHT DAY

Round 1
Watson starts the fight with a leg kick. He keeps faking the shoot and follows up with another leg kick. Wilkinson has yet to respond. Finally Watson shoots and gets the takedown. He has an awkward side control. He gets into half mount and begins peppering Wilkinson with body and head shots. Wilkinson is also landing a good number of shots to Watson’s head. While Watson is looking for a better position, Wilkinson is looking to get out. They manage to stand but it doesn’t last and Watson gets Wilkinson mounted. Wilkinson keeps turning and eventually turns enough to give Watson his back. Wilkinson holds onto one of Watson’s arm and his barely managing to fend off the choke. Watson gets the right arm in and under, getting the choke locked with the left arm. But Wilkinson is not giving in very easily. It’s a good solid minute and Wilkinson is desperately looking to free himself. But the choke is too far sunk and Wilkinson taps.

Winner: Kyle Watson via Submission (Rear Naked Choke)

Pretty much no surprises there.

In talking about Bruce Leroy, GSP is promising an exciting fight. Dana can’t even call this one.

GSP brings in Freddie Roach (boxing guru) to train the guys. As Pacqiao’s trainer, this guy’s got some serious boxing cred. The guys are in AWE. Roach seems to like Caceres, predicting that he will do well.

This is definitely an emotional fight — meaning that it is fueled by their hatred for each other. But Alex thinks that this hatred will be Michael’s downfall. He claims that all the pressure is on Michael, as he doesn’t want to lose to someone who he feels doesn’t belong there. Michael plans on keeping it standing, at least to start. And then he’ll just wear him down.

Before the weigh-ins, Kos starts ribbing Michael, predicting a win for Alex (also calling him the “black Georges”). Kos thinks that GSP’s theory is that Michael is their strongest, so he can sacrifice Alex to him to move him on. However, GSP comments that he really doesn’t know how the fight will go — either could potentially win. Either way, this is going to be a helluva fight. Great way to end the quarterfinals.

FIGHT DAY

Round 1
Johnson doesn’t even touch gloves. Caceres lands a solid leg kick followed by a straight leg. Johnson responds by going after Caceres and gets him down with an authoritative slam. Caceres is on his side and Johnson is trying at least get into his guard. Johnson backs off a bit and Caceres springs up. Caceres tries a head kick but it is checked. Johnson lands a big jab that sends Caceres’s mouthpiece flying. When they resume Johnson backs Caceres against the cage and slams him down hard again. Johnson gets right into Caceres’s guard. Caceres tries to get up, but Johnson pushes him right back down. Johnson backs off, but Caceres keeps his feet up to fend him off. Back to standing and Caceres gets in a good combo. Johnson responds with a straight jab followed by a painful leg kick. Caceres charges, peppering him with jabs. Johnson turns it around, and gets Caceres with his back at the fence. They clinch briefly before they return to the middle. With a minute to go, Johnson gets Caceres on his back again. Before he can do any damage Caceres kicks him back off. On their feet, Johnson goes offensive with a few jabs before they clinch. A big head kick attempt from Caceres is checked. Clinching again, Caceres has the control as the round ends.

(All Johnson there…but can he keep up that pace??)

Round 2
Both are looking antsy. A good jab exchange. Caceres misses a superman punch. Johnson shoots and gets Caceres down. In side control, he alternates between elbows and jabs. He looks to spin into north-south but maintains side control. He scrambles and ends up in Caceres’s guard, pushing him into the corner. With him pinned back, he lands several unanswered big shots. AC leans forward and it looks like Johnson goes for a choke, but they get back up. Johnson lands a good combo, but Caceres counters. Caceres ducks a shot from Johnson and Johnson shoots immediately. As they scramble down, Caceres reverses and is on top for a change. It is short-lived. They are back up in the clinch. Johnson gets Caceres around the waist and slams him again. In full guard, Johnson tries to keep one fist on his throat while punching with the other. He gets a few nice hammerfists through. Caceres tries to scramble up, and eventually does. Caceres attempts a head kick that Johnson catches, using his leg to drive him back. Still holding on the leg, Johnson sweeps and slams Caceres. In side control again, he doesn’t do much and the round ends.

Winner: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision

No matter how many times Michael threw punch, Alex was able to keep moving enough to dodge it. No matter how many times Michael took him down, Alex was able to pop back up. Definitely a huge battle.

Ok. I have been a BIG defender of Kos this ENTIRE season. But for Kos to say that he didn’t know what fight GSP was watching because it sucked?? What fight was HE watching?!?! Sour grapes, Koscheck, sour grapes.

And so the feud between Michael and Alex comes to an end.

Dana and the coaches get together to discuss the semi-final fight matchups. Amazingly, they agree right away. Whoa…has hell frozen over?

So the semi-final fights will be:

1. Jonathan Brookins vs. Kyle Watson
2. Michael Johnson vs. Nam Phan

Next week: Two hour semi-final extravaganza! Four men will enter the cage, but only two will go on to the live finale!

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 12 Episode 3: “Unleash Hell”

Last week on TUF, the coaches chose the teams. In the first prelim match-up, Alex Caceres took on Jeff Lentz who was winning most the fight until Caceres came out with a surprising submission for the win. Who will fight next in the quest to be The Ultimate Fighter?

In the house after Jeff and Alex’s fight, they’re hanging out drinking casually. But Alex is running his mouth about being underestimated. He’s really rubbing the win in, and it’s amazing that Jeff (or anyone else, for that matter!) has not turned around and back-handed him. What he doesn’t realize is that no one is listening.

At Team GSP training, GSP is very happy with the win, but this is still not his ultimate goal. He wants to turn them into true martial artists. To aid in this goal, he brings in a champion wrestler. This is to give the guys the experience of training with a world-class athlete. Basically, he came in and made them all feel stupid and inexperienced (in a good way :P ).

When Team Kos gets together, the guys are supposed to be sparring and grappling, but really seem to be doing nothing but complaining. Koscheck sees this, and lets them know that he is not happy with their lack of focus. His little pep talk seems to have worked and lit a fire under them. Suddenly they’re busting their asses and looking good.

The following day, they arrive for the next fight announcement, as chosen by GSP. They choose their #1 Michael Johnson to fight Aaron Wilkinson, the Brit. GSP sees this as an easy win for Johnson, but Kos warns that underestimating Wilkinson is a mistake and that he might just be the sleeper.

After their fight is announced, Johnson is sitting before training and being all philosophical about his dreams and efforts to get into the UFC. GSP is impressed with his demeanor, his focus and motivation to win, in addition to his preparedness. They start discussing strategy, neutralizing Wilkinson’s stand-up in an effort to get him down. He and GSP are both highly motivated.

And what would a season of TUF be without pranks? As Team Kos arrives, they see that GSP’s car is parked all by its lonesome. So they decide to park their cars ridiculously close on either side of his…so that he can’t get in. But, as GSP puts it, this is not his first rodeo, and he manages to get in and drive off into the sunset.

Thanks to subtitles (no offense to British fans!), I gather that Wilkinson fights out of the Wolfslair. His goal against Johnson is to keep moving to maintain control. He suggests perhaps taking Johnson down and immediately getting back up, but Kos warns that that could potentially put him dangerous situations, as Johnson is a good wrestler. But the coaches agree that the plan has merit and may work. Regardless, he knows that he is underestimated by all.

Many of the guys weigh-in with their thoughts on the match-up, and (shocker), their respective teammates choose them for the win. Dana doesn’t help either, saying that Michael Johnson is really talented, but that Wilkinson shouldn’t be underestimated.

FIGHT DAY

Prior to the fight, Dana manages to bring in Mike Tyson to talk to Team GSP. The guys are all pumped to see the legendary boxer who happens to also be a huge fan of MMA. Johnson is thrilled to be fighting in front of Tyson.

Round 1
They both seem slightly hesitant at first, but Johnson fakes first, drawing a jab from Wilkinson. They exchange quickly and brutally which turns into a clinch against the cage. Johnson gets Wilkinson pinned and looks for a guillotine but is in an awkward position. They return to their feet and Wilkinson lands a beautiful knee. They continue to exchange, with several nice shots from both. Johnson goes for a body kick, but it’s caught, which Wilkinson uses to drive Johnson back. They clinch again, but now work is done. Back to the center, they both punch and counter, with the occasional leg kick thrown in. Finally Johnson shoots low and gets Wilkinson down. Wilkinson tries to roll out, but gives up his back. Johnson looks for the choke, but Wilkinson is able to stand up and shake him off. This time Wilkinson is able to pin Johnson against the cage with control of one of his legs. Johnson staves him off for a short while, but Wilkinson manages to get him down. In half mount, Wilkinson’s uses one arm to stabilize Johnson and the other to pound his face and body. Pinned into the corner of the cage, Johnson is not doing a lot to defend, but it doesn’t look as though Wilkinson is doing a lot of damage either. The round ends with Wilkinson in Johnson’s guard, but no progress.

Round 2
Johnson puts the pressure on first, but Wilkinson returns it. Johnson lands a straight jab that knocks Wilkinson’s head back, but he can take it. Johnson gets Wilkinson against the cage, but Wilkinson drives him right back. They exchange, but it’s not long before Johnson goes for and gets the takedown. He is in Wilkinson’s guard, but he rolls, giving up his back. This does not last, though, and they are back up. After a few jabs, they clinch again, with Wilkinson in control and Johnson cannot get him down. Soon after, Wilkinson gets Johnson down and as Johnson is trying to get up, Wilkinson looks for a standing guillotine. Johnson’s head pops right out. Back on their feet, the pace is fast as they both continue to throw bombs and look for takedowns. A nice straight jab from Wilkinson, and a nice body kick. Johnson tries to shoot, but Wilkinson tries half-assedly for a choke. Johnson just punishes him with a few knees. Now Wilkinson shoots, but Johnson’s sprawl keeps it standing despite Wilkinson’s attempts to sweep. The round ends with both guys swinging.

Sho nuff…going to a third round!

Round 3
Neither of them shows how tired they really are and come out swinging. Johnson connects big, knocking Wilkinson onto his back and pouncing. He rains down so many unanswered hammerfists. Wilkinson tries to roll out to avoid them, but he gives up his back. Johnson immediately goes for the RNC. Wilkinson is quick to tap.

Winner: Michael Johnson via Submission (Rear naked choke)

For the most part, all agreed that Wilkinson won the first round, while Johnson won the second (except for Kos, who thought Wilkinson won both. Huh?). Johnson is please with himself, and looks forward to winning more to win it all. Kos is still proud of Wilkinson for giving his all and putting on a show.

Where did Johnson get all that energy to come out like that in the third round?? He came out like a bat outta hell and put any doubts to rest. Could Tyson’s presence have given him that little bit of motivation he needed?

Next week: Tyson sticks around and offers advice to Team GSP. Kos tries to rattle GSP. Bruce Leroy runs his mouth in the house, sending Sevak into a rage. Another prelim fight rounds it out.