Jonathan Brookins’ TUF 12 Blog: Episode Two

Ultimate Fighter 12 contestant Jonathan Brookins provides his blow-by-blow account of episode two.

By Jonathan Brookins

I’m extra excited to watch the season get underway. This is my first time blogging, so please forgive me for anything that might come off as an informality. I’ll hopefully get the hang of this as I go, but I’m looking forward to having a place to talk with people about the show and hopefully give you guys the best in-depth recap I can.

Starting off and picking a bed

It was a major load off my back to be done with the preliminary fight, and an honor to be able to move into the house. I was really excited to get to know the group of guys who made it into the house. I knew a few of them before this experience, and for the ones I didn’t know, I was really excited to get to know them.

I remember it being an interesting situation to be the crew moving into the house. Plenty of the other guys had seen each other before and briefly hung out with at one point or another in this small MMA community we dwell in, so there was a certain level of camaraderie that I think we were all feeling upon moving into the crib. And man, it was a huge place. Plenty of us had never seen a place like this before up close, let alone lived in one.

So we were all pretty stoked about that. The house was completely spotless when we moved in (my gut told me it would only stay that way for 24 hours or less). It was an incredible. I knew there would be a scramble for the beds, and I was ready for it. Once we opened up those front doors and scanned the place, it was going to be a mad dash for the best sleeping arrangements.

The bedrooms weren’t easy to find. There was a bedroom upstairs with seven beds all lined up. It was like basic training housing. I wasn’t really feeling that, so I went on the hunt.

If there was seven beds up stairs, surely there would be two smaller ones divided up downstairs. Maybe? Sure enough, Dane Sayers from North Dakota showed me a little room downstairs with four beds in it, where Aaron Wilkinson and Nam Phan had already set up shack. Yup, no doubt — I had to jump on that little space.

I had already spoken with Aaron and Nam a little before so I knew they were going to be mellow dudes. I was all about that. Dane always gave off a positive vibe as well so I was very cool with how the rooms got divvied up.

Kyle Watson, Andy Main, and Jeff Lentz had the best room. Dane, Aaron, Nam, and I had the mellow zone and upstairs you had Bruce Leeroy, Marc Stevens, Sevak Magakian, Sako, Michael Johnson, Spencer Paige and Cody Mckenzie. That’s a hell of a zone. Mad props to all you boys for being able to rough that one out.

Getting to know each other

So the vibe in the house is cool the first night. Bruce busts out the Harmonica and kind of breaks the ice. That dude is an excellent ice breaker, man. We thought about forming our own Ultimate Fighter Season 12 band that night. I think we had Sako and I on kitchen pot percussion, Bruce on harmonica and vocals, and Cody Mckenzie laying down some ill lyrics as well. They didn’t show it, so we must not have been that good. I hope one day we can get the band back together.

TUF 12 contestant Alex "Bruce Leeroy" CaceresThe rest of the night we all pretty much just listened to Bruce tell his stories. They were pretty amazing and they just kept coming. Many of us wondered if he had prematurely shot his load and used up a whole season worth of stories in one night.

You didn’t hear the one where he was surrounded by eight guys, one of which had a knife and was walking towards Bruce. All Bruce had to say, to save these eight roughnecks from an impending doom was “If you drop the knife, I’ll let you live.” And that right there was enough to send them on their way.

I’m not quite sure if that’s exactly how the story went, but I think that was one rendition of thousands of stories Bruce had — and I’m not disputing a single one!

Take Bruce’s word for it. He’s a wild dude, but I knew I’d get along with him because we had already fought on a card together earlier in our careers back in Florida, so I was actually happy he was there. A few other guys I could relate to fairly easy right away were Michael Johnson and Cody Mckenzie.

I liked Mike a lot because we knew a few of the same people because of the wrestling world. Cody was from the Pacific Northwest, which is the easiest thing for me to relate to being a Pacific Northwesterner at heart. I grew up in Portland. So I loved having Cody there. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go back home west and visit my friends, so having Cody there was like having a friend from back home. At this point we hadn’t picked teams, so I wasn’t quite sure who I would become cool with along the way.

Picking teams

The fight picks were interesting. It was funny to watch it play out on TV. I had no clue that Georges hustled it like that. John Danaher and Georges are tacticians to the fullest, so it wasn’t surprising to me to see them start the season off on such a strategic maneuver.

I was really happy with how the team picks played out. I think the group was 50/50 on who wanted to be on Georges’ team and who wanted to be on Josh’s team. It worked out pretty well because I think Georges got all the guys he wanted to work with and I believe Josh did too.

We had a more un-orthodox group on Georges team and I was really excited about that. Josh’s team was Jeff Lentz, Sako, Sevak, Marc Stevens, Andy Main, and Nam Phan. They are really super tough dudes. It was actually kind of intimidating to have to go up against them. Georges’ team was Kyle Watson, Michael Johnson, Bruce Leeroy, Spencer Paige, Cody Mckenzie, and myself. It seemed like we were a little smaller in size and we were all southpaws, so it was kind of crazy. But I couldn’t have been more happy with the group of guys I was going to be training with.

Meeting John Danaher

I am now about to introduce you to somebody that you will remember from this moment on for the rest of your life. His name is John Danaher, and he is a genius.

And the reason I am making a big deal about this is because I’ve realized in my short 25 years of living that it is really a lot harder to come a crossed a real life genius then you think, but that’s who Georges rolls with, both literally and figuratively.

Danaher is St. Pierre’s jiu-jitsu instructor. He’s a black belt out of Renzo Gracie’s academy in Manhattan, New York. I feel pretty confident in speaking for everybody when I say he worked his way into legendary status in each of our lives. He was an amazing coach and there was no shortage of amazing coaches that you will see George bring in this season, so it was a giant honor. As soon as they sat us down and spoke to us about their philosophy on martial arts and what it means to be an artist, I knew they were going to affect our lives in a positive way.

The first fight

It wasn’t long after the first training session that Bruce was already letting us know that he was very pumped to take the first fight pick and if that was alright with us, he would like to fight Jeff Lentz. I think we were all in agreement with that choice. We knew it would be a good fight for Bruce and if he could pull it off it would give us a good chance to evaluate our next fights a little bit more.

I knew this would be a tough fight. Jeff probably had the most dramatic fight to get into the house. He practically destroyed his opponent. I think before that fight, people might have been taking Jeff a little lightly, but definitely not after that. People knew he was for real.

The fight was nerve wrecking, man. Jeff was having it his way like Burger King in there. Alex is a scrappy little dude, though. I know from training with him that he has amazing natural ability, and that is always hard to deal with.

Jeff said it best when he said “I just got caught,” because that’s exactly what happened. But I know our team was ecstatic to be able to remain in control and we were super happy for Bruce. That was a huge win. Alex did his thing and sure enough was on top of the world. Kudos to you, kid.

Back to the drawing board for the Team GSP, though. There are a whole lot of fights left, but that was one hell of a way to kick things off.