Jonathan Brookins hopes to follow in the footsteps of former UFC champions like Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans.
Like Griffin and Evans, Brookins claimed the crown of The Ultimate Fighter, securing the title after the 12th season of the show.
Now, Brookins will begin his trek this coming Saturday when he faces Erik Koch at UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger.
Brookins (13-3) has not competed since defeating Michael Johnson in the finals of TUF, as he was forced out of a planned bout with Jeremy Stephens due to breaking the bottom floor of his orbital socket during training.
That injury is now in the past, and a healthy Brookins is ready to get on with his pro career in the UFC.
“In all honestly, I do see greatness,” Brookins said. “In all respects of the word. I think that’s an obtainable task for me. No matter how I come about learning how to accomplish that, I think that is ultimately what is going to happen. It is just a matter of how and when.”
For his upcoming fight with Koch, Brookins has stayed close to Florida, working out with the people that raised him as a fighter at Gracie Barra Orlando.
“They’ve got really, really strong Brazilian jiu-jitsu out here,” Brookins said. “Their jiu-jitsu comes from guys who are straight from Brazil who could have been here a couple months or a couple years. I like putting on the gi and growing in that aspect. To me, that is one of the reasons I stick around here, because I have so much further to go in my jiu-jitsu and that’s one piece of the puzzle that I can hone and perfect and it will take a lot of time, but I have the place to focus on it, so I like to take advantage of it.”
As for his opponent, Brookins has nothing but respect for “New Breed.”
“I think he’s a great opponent,” Brookins said. “I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. He’s got a lot of good reports behind him and I think that’s really cool they matched me up against a guy who’s got a lot of steam behind him right now. I like that they’re putting me up against tough people. I think that’s really nice of them and real cool.
“I really hope to go out there and perform. I hope they always match me up against tough people.”