CAUTION: SPOILERS INCLUDED – Only four athletes remain on The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck, and when this week’s two semifinal bouts are over, two will emerge to compete for a UFC contract in this Saturday’s live finale in Las Vegas.
In the first TUF12 semifinal bout, Team GSP squadmates Kyle Watson and Jonathan Brookins meet, and head coach Georges St-Pierre has been forced to remove himself as a cornerman in order to keep things neutral.
With only one member of Team Koscheck left in the running for the TUF12 title, training has slowed down and the fighters aren’t too happy about it. Andy Main and Marc Stevens are two of the more vocal critics of coach Josh Koscheck. And in the midst of Stevens’ impersonation of the welterweight contender, who walks in but Koscheck. He takes it in stride though, opting to have a few drinks with his team.
Meanwhile, while Brookins and Watson have nothing but good things to say about each other, Tam Koscheck’s Nam Phan has apparently alienated himself from his team and is looking for info on his upcoming opponent, Michael Johnson.
All four still have to fight though, and first up its Watson (155) and Brookins (156).
Watson’s standup is sharp as he gets out to an early lead, but a minute in, Brookins scores his first takedown. Watson works back to his feet, Brookins is keeping him pinned against the fence though. With two minutes gone, the two break, and Watson continues to find success with his strikes until another Brookins takedown. This time, Brookins takes control on the mat, preventing Watson from mounting any kind of offense for the rest of the round as he delivers sporadic flurries of punches.
Brookins uses a relentless attack to get the bout back to the mat early in round two, and again, he is able to keep Watson from escaping, locking up the second stanza with relative ease.
It’s more of the same in the final round, with Brookins’ smothering attack rendering Watson unable to do anything in terms of getting back into the fight. The 30-27 scores on all three judges’ scorecards are a mere formality, and Jonathan Brookins is on his way to The Ultimate Fighter 12 finale on December 4th in Las Vegas.
Before the second semifinal, Phan is the victim of a prank and then has to train alone for a spell, but he steels himself for the task ahead, and after weighing in at 155 to Johnson’s 156, he’s ready for battle.
Young gun Johnson gets the fight where he wants it immediately though, taking Phan to the mat twice in the opening minute. Once standing, Phan scores with some solid strikes to keep his foe honest, but Johnson’s response is another explosive takedown. The Team GSP member can’t keep Phan on the mat for long, and while standing the two trade hard shots, and both men have their moments of success. With under two minutes left, one of Johnson’s shots opens cuts under and over Phan’s right eye, and the blood is visibly bothering the veteran, who paws at the wounds a number of times before the bell sounds.
Phan is able to get back in business in round two, thanks to some solid takedown defense and a standup attack that includes a thudding body shot. In the second minute, a Johnson takedown attempt goes awry, and Phan is able to add more points with ground strikes. When the two rise, Johnson looks winded, and Phan continues to attack the body in response. It’s a big round for Phan, one he needed badly.
Johnson gets the fight to the mat in the first minute of the final round, but Phan fires off some good shots from his back and is soon able to get back to his feet. Despite his growing fatigue, Johnson keeps moving forward, and Phan keeps drilling him with more energy sapping body shots. Midway through the round, it’s Johnson with another takedown, but the time on the mat is brief, as Phan continues to work his strikes. Johnson is relentless as he pins Phan to the fence, yet the Team Koscheck member continues to find daylight for his strikes between each attempt from Johnson. In the final minute, the two battlers slug it out, leaving it all in the Octagon in search of the win.
The judges’ verdict? 29-28 Johnson, 29-28 Phan, and 29-28 for the winner by split decision, Michael Johnson.
The bout sets up Saturday’s All-Team GSP final – Jonathan Brookins vs Michael Johnson.
Here’s the final look at the teams:
Michael Johnson 3-0
Jonathan Brookins 3-0
Spencer Paige – Eliminated on episode five by Nam Phan
Alex Caceres 1-1 – Eliminated in quarterfinals by Michael Johnson
Kyle Watson 2-1 – Eliminated in semifinals by Jonathan Brookins
Cody McKenzie 1-1 – Eliminated in quarterfinals by Nam Phan
Dane Sayers – Eliminated on episode seven by Sako Chivitchian
Marc Stevens – Eliminated on episode six by Cody McKenzie; lost in Wild Card bout to Aaron Wilkinson.
Sevak Magakian – Eliminated on episode six by Jonathan Brookins
Sako Chivitchian 1-1 – Eliminate in quarterfinals by Jonathan Brookins
Andrew Main – Eliminated on episode four by Kyle Watson
Nam Phan 2-1 – Eliminated in semifinals by Jonathan Brookins
Aaron Wilkinson 1-1 – Eliminated on episode three by Michael Johnson; brought back for Wild Card bout, defeats Marc Stevens. Eliminated in quarterfinals by Kyle Watson.
Jeffrey Lentz – Eliminated on episode two by Alex Caceres