Jonathan Brookins (right): Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Two members of coach Georges St. Pierre’s team will do battle at the finale of “The Ultimate Fighter 12,” while a host of eliminated contestants are set to bolster the event’s undercard.
As revealed on Wednesday night’s episode of the Spike TV reality show, it will be lightweights Jonathan Brookins and Michael Johnson vying for the mantle of “The Ultimate Fighter” this Saturday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Brookins earned a unanimous nod over teammate Kyle Watson in his semi-final bout, while Johnson eliminated the Josh Koscheck-trained veteran Nam Phan in a tight split decision to reach the finale.
On the undercard, Phan will drop to 145 pounds to take on WEC veteran Leonard Garcia in a match first reported by MMAJunkie.com on Wednesday. Also reported by the site and since confirmed by the promotion is a bout between Watson and Sako Chivitchyan, as well as a showdown of quarter-finalists Cody McKenzie and Aaron Wilkinson.
The “TUF 12” finale will mark Brookins’ first official Zuffa bout since his one-and-done WEC stint in November 2008. The 25-year-old Orlando native met Jose Aldo in Aldo’s second WEC bout, lasting into the third round before succumbing to punches from the current UFC featherweight champion. Brookins has since tried his hand at professional boxing and reeled off a trio of MMA wins in Florida, including one on Bellator Fighting Championships’ inaugural card in April 2009. Prior to his semi-final win over Watson, Brookins tore through three other “TUF 12” opponents -- Chivitchyan, Ran Weathers and Sevak Magakian -- submitting each via rear-naked choke.
Johnson, meanwhile, will face the bright lights for the first time on Saturday, having competed almost exclusively for local promotions in and around his home base of Springfield, Mo. Nicknamed “The Menace,” Johnson, 24, carries a three-fight professional win streak into the match, not including his “TUF 12” wins over Phan, Wilkinson, Alex Caceres and Pablo Garza.
Along with the Brookins-Johnson final, Saturday’s card will be co-headlined by a 205-pound duel between original “Ultimate Fighter” finalist Stephan Bonnar and Croatian Igor Pokrajac. Also slated for the Spike-televised broadcast are a middleweight bout between former title challenger Demian Maia and “TUF 3” winner Kendall Grove, and a welterweight match pitting unbeaten prospect Johny Hendricks against the surging Rick Story.