To quote Bruce Buffer, "it's TIIIIIIME" for the main event.
It's really difficult to see Michael Johnson holding his own against Jonathan Brookins. Johnson is talented to be sure and had time aplenty to work on the cardio issues that seemed to slow him on the show. But—and I hate to keep going back to this—Brookins stepped into the cage with Jose Aldo and absorbed the associated punishment with such an endeavor for over 10 minutes before succumbing to the TKO.
The UFC Featherweight Champion is that good—10 ultimately unsuccessful minutes against Junior is more of a feat than many, many victories you see on the various resumes.
Johnson mentioned that he put on a couple pounds of muscles, but it's Brookins who looks noticeably bigger.
The exchanges starts fast and furiously inside the first minute with the Menace getting the better of them, but Brookins doesn't look panicked as he shoots in for a takedown. He tries to turn a single leg into a double and then a body lock, but Johnson is too strong in the early going and shirks his opponent off.
Johnson's landed a couple clean shots and a particularly gnarly one folds Brookins like a chair. He recovers quickly, but the Menace is all over him. Another left flattens the crowd favorite as Michael Johnson shows us what a real 10-8 stanza looks like.
A right uppercut lands and is followed by a stinging straight left—this is getting ugly even if Brookins hasn't started bleeding. Yet.
I'm beginning to think maybe Brookins survived as long as he did against Aldo because he's got a granite chin and that alone. He's eaten some tremendous shots from Johnson, but doesn't even look puffy.
And now the Menace's pace has slackened considerably.
Brookins tries for a strong finish, but he noshes on a couple more firm shots and gets a shot stuffed for his troubles.
I'd call that a 10-8 for Johnson.
That left hand from Johnson is wrecking Brookins, but it might not matter if Michael's stamina problems are still with him. It does seem he's weakened a bit in the second as Jonathan has little trouble securing the takedown that was so elusive in the first.
He's on top of Johnson, slipping in shots when the opportunity presents itself and spending the majority of his concentration on submission openings.
Slowly but surely, Brookins is working himself into a mounted crucifix, having already trapped one of Johnson's arms between his legs. With the one arm neutralized, Jonathan softens Johnson up with some short elbows and mini-hammerfists.
But Johnson frees his arm and struggles back to his feet with about a minute left.
Jonathan's family is standing and surging toward the Octagon to my left as Brookins continues to press his ground game. The horn kills the round before he can threaten a submission, but it's a 10-9 round for the fan favorite.
Much as he did on the show, Johnson seems to have found a second wind for the final round. He's not quite as lively as he was in the first, but he defends the takedown better than he did in the second. In the end, though, his resistance is futile as Brookins finishes the maneuver.
If I was right bout the 10-8 first round for Johnson, we could be heading toward a catastrophic ending to a night full of unpopular decisions—the dreaded draw.
There are still over two minutes left in the contest so we'll see what happens.
After spending the bulk of the round in the dominated position, the Menace manages a reversal and uses the shift to hop back to his feet. Once there, he tries to push home his advantage and catches Brookins with a stiff shot, but he can't deny yet another takedown from Brookins.
With about 90 seconds left, Michael seems just about done and Brookins seems to feel the give in his opponent. Shots engulf the Menace's head and body as Jonathan puts the finishing flourish on the bout.
The horn ends a 10-9 round for Brookins and (it gives me no pleasure to say this) I've got a draw on my scorecard.
Hopefully, I'm wrong.
Jonathan Brookins defeats Michael Johnson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27).
I'm at a total loss—how can Stephan Bonnar take a 10-8 round in his bout (turns out he didn't), but Michael Johnson doesn't?
Let's get this straight, I was pulling for Jonathan Brookins, but he got knocked down TWICE in the first and was generally defending for his life.
And, unless I've got this wrong, one of the judges gave two rounds to Brookins while calling a third 9-9?
Regardless, congratulations to Jonathan Brookins—good dude, good fighter and a welcome addition to the ranks.
Thanks for reading and see you next season...
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