On a season of The Ultimate Fighter filled with loud personalities, it’s easy for a guy like Jonathan Brookins to fade into the background.
Once he gets into the Octagon, though, Brookins knows how to command attention.
On last week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck, Brookins faced Sevak Magakian, and submitted the decorated judoka in just over two minutes with a rear-naked choke. On Sunday, Brookins spoke to UltimateFighter.com and Bleacher Report.
So, just for starters, we’re going to be talking mainly about your fight, but any thoughts on UFC 121 the other night?
Last night was really exciting, man.
I was 100-percent pumped for Cain Velazquez. A lot of people were, too.
I mean, where I watched it, it was like Obama just got elected or something. It was like we had a new president.
That was pretty cool.
That was a huge night for a lot of people. It was a really good fight, and the rest of the fights were pretty good, but that was probably was one of the better moments I’ve seen in the UFC for a while.
You mention being pumped for Cain. It’s interesting, because Cain’s corner, Cain’s camp, those guys were helping your opponents on the show, the Team Koscheck coaches. You didn’t associate him with them at all?
I saw those guys, and I was so excited to see them.
Seeing Dave Camarillo, it was pretty cool, because I like those guys a lot. I got to work with them just slightly, hang out with them just briefly in the locker room when I was there, and I really had no disrespect for those guys.
I really would be excited to run into them again. I was really happy for all those guys.
It was a big win for them.
Some of the other guys on your team—Michael Johnson, Cody McKenzie, even Kyle Watson—seemed like they had some issues with the Team Koscheck guys. You just stayed out of that whole thing?
Yeah, I didn’t know they had issues with them. I never did, not in that way.
The Koscheck coaches, I got more personal with, and I really liked them a lot, and I never really saw that “bad guy” side of them. Sometimes now, when I’m watching the show, I’m seeing things that I never saw, because I was never around.
It was really kind of interesting. To see them kind of press Georges’ buttons like that, it’s kind of hard for me to watch, because Georges is such a nice guy, the kind of guy that I want to grow up and be.
To see how he reacts in those moments and to see how he does keep his demeanor when someone really is being disrespectful to him, it’s kind of an honor that he was my coach.
If you weren’t around for a lot of that, where were you? We saw a little bit of you meditating in the backyard, but when we see things going on in the house, like Sevak was going after Alex Caceres or Koscheck is yelling at Johnson and Watson from the porch, where are you when that’s going on?
A lot of times, I was sleeping. I would just go to sleep early.
I requested some earplugs and something to put over my eyes, and I would hit the sack around 9 p.m. or so, because I like to get up early.
I like that time to myself. That’s one of the only times I can get to myself, if I can get up before the other guys.
The rest of the day, I have to be forced to be around a lot of people who feel like they’re locked up. There’s nothing less exciting than a conversation with a bunch of people who feel like they’re locked up.
You end up going in circles about stuff. At times, there were some enlightening conversations, and it was pretty cool.
But other times, I just like the time to myself. I don’t get much when I’m back in Florida, so I did what I could.
So then, moving along to the fight, and what we saw leading up to it, when you hear Georges say that you don’t even know how good you are, what goes through your mind when you hear a guy who many people think is the best in the world pound-for-pound say that about you?
That meant a whole lot to me.
That meant a real, real lot to me, because I didn’t get to spend as much time connecting with Georges as I would have liked to. We got to talk, but there were so many guys he needed to divide his attention up among, and we only had a certain number of hours with him in a day.
I really did try to learn from him, and to hear him say that, it means a lot to me. It inspires me to really want to believe in myself and maybe work that little extra bit that you do when you really believe in yourself.
When you really believe in yourself, you find yourself doing things you never thought you could do, and I really appreciate him saying that.
And then, getting into the fight with Sevak, how did the way that played out compare to what you expected going in?
It played out pretty much the way I would have wanted it to going in.
That’s about exactly how I would have wanted it to go. I expected anything, because that’s the way you have to go in and get ready.
You have to know that that’s what you prepare for, but it just so happens that it goes your way sometimes, and I was really thankful for that. I had some tools that I could use, and I was thankful to be able to use them.
That big throw that you hit, that set the chain of events in motion that led to the end of the fight, it’s kind of interesting, given that you were in there with a guy who comes from a really strong judo background like Sevak.
It just came down to timing, and I was able to execute it first.
I think, maybe, if he was expecting me to ever do that, it probably wouldn’t have happened. That he had such a strong background worked in my favor, because that just might have been how that worked out.
And then that gets back to him standing up and you putting the rear-naked choke on, and we’ve seen a lot of that position this season. Dane Sayers and Alex Caceres put on the choke from that position in the elimination fights, and then Andy Main tried to put it on Kyle Watson that way, and you get it on Sevak.
Is there something about that position, the piggyback-type thing, that’s a reason that we’re seeing it so much this season?
That might be the evolution of the sport, to climb on the back like that and really sink in the hooks.
That might be the jiu-jitsu revolution, whereas you might get someone on somebody’s back, try to pick them up and go for a slam, I think a lot of dudes are really comfortable putting in the hooks, so they know it’s such a valuable position.
Once you have that, you can really, really go for the gold. It’s a valuable position to be in, and I think a lot of people go for it.