Last Saturday night, Jonathan Brookins took on Michael Johnson in the finals matchup of the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. Brookins rebounded from a shaky first round to earn a unanimous decision win over Johnson and with it, the latest TUF contract to be given out.
Though he performed well during the TUF tournament and eventually took the crown, Brookins recently told MMAJunkie.com that he still feels he has a long way to go before he becomes a serious player in the UFC.
“It’s a crazy journey,” Brookins said. “Every day is a learning process. I don’t want to be my hardest critic, but I just see so much that I have to improve on in order to be really competitive in this game. I’m kind of just getting by, it feels like in a sense. I feel like there’s a little bit more pressure slightly to step up and really perform.”
Brookins and Johnson were teammates under coach Georges St. Pierre and had trained together extensively during the show’s taping. Brookins explained that the Johnson he trained with was not the Johnson that showed up to fight Saturday and that he was overwhelmed by his former teammate’s early onslaught.
“I believe what went wrong is Michael was better than me in that first round,” Brookins said. “He just beat up on me. I think I had to work the kinks out. He definitely did a lot of improving since the last time we sparred. I remember him saying that when you get in the cage with ‘The Menace,’ it’s a different story. I was like, ‘I wonder what ‘The Menace’ is like in the cage?’ I knew Mike. I never got in the cage with ‘The Menace.’ It was serious. It was a lot of fun.”
Having competed in the WEC at featherweight (even holding his own against Jose Aldo at one point) and now with the WEC’s absorption by the UFC, Brookins told MMAJunkie that he is eyeing a return back to the 145-pound ranks.
“I think that’s where my sights are set now, to play the part, to really improve in the areas that are necessary to be a competitive factor in the UFC,” Brookins said. “I know me and Mike will have future fights here. Now, it’s just up to us to pull the trigger and make our way up the ladder.”
Brookins trains out of Gracie Barra Orlando and holds a professional record of 12 wins and three losses. He has earned eight wins by submission, two by knockout or TKO and two by decision.