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Michael Johnson Looks Back on TUF 12, Forward Toward Finale

On this week's episode of The Ultimate Fighter, Michael Johnson defeated Nam Phan by split decision, earning a spot on Saturday night's Ultimate Fighter Finale card, where he'll face Jonathan Brookins to see who will be the winner of this season of the UFC's reality show.

In his weekly interview with, Johnson discussed his fight with Phan, Brookins' unanimous decision victory over Kyle Watson, and his preparation for Saturday night's fight, which has included training with Greg Jackson's camp in Albuquerque.

The interview is below.

Michael David Smith: You beat Nam Phan by split decision, with two judges scoring it for you 29-28 and one scoring it 29-28 for Nam. Were you satisfied with how you fought?
Michael Johnson: I was happy to win but I would have loved to finish him. I wanted to get a stoppage. But I thought it was a good fight, Nam fought well.

I definitely thought you won the first round, and your punches were hurting him and I think it was the most decisive of the three rounds. Did you do everything you wanted?
I thought I got off to a great start. I thought I was close to finishing him but Nam is a tough guy.

In the second round Nam was starting to hit you more, including some pretty hard shots to the body, and I thought you looked like you were getting tired. Were you? Was your cardio a problem?
I wouldn't say I was getting worn out but I did think that I threw so many punches in the first round that it took a lot out of me, and when I went for takedowns he was doing a great job sprawling and getting a good position. His body shots honestly didn't affect me as much as people thought they did, though.

In my opinion the third round was pretty close. How confident were you that you had won at the end of the fight?
I was pretty confident. I got him down two takedowns to one, I was the one pressuring and he was the one backing up so I was confident. I was really surprised one judge gave it to Nam. I guess that judge saw something the other two judges didn't see.

In the other fight, Jonathan Brookins vs. Kyle Watson, Brookins won 30-27 on all three judges' cards. You were in Kyle's corner, but were you also thinking about what it would be like to fight one or the other of them in the Finale?
I was definitely thinking about that. I was thinking about it from the beginning of the show, every fight, thinking about how I would fight each one of these guys and what my game plan would be against them. I thought Brookins' fight against Kyle was great. Brookins did everything he had to do to win, lots of takedowns and lots of control. I guess Brookins was trying to finish him but wasn't able to, but he did a good job of doing what he needed to do to win.

So now you're getting ready to face Brookins on Saturday night. Have you re-watched Brookins' fights to prepare?
Yes. I've watched several times, broken it all down, trying to look at his strengths and weaknesses. I'm doing my homework and expecting a pretty good fight for both of us. I had a buddy who e-mailed me the video of Brookins' fight with Jose Aldo. I was impressed that Brookins held his own with Aldo although he isn't really at Aldo's level as a fighter.

What have you been working on since you left the Ultimate Fighter house?
I've been working on my cardio a lot. I do a lot of rounds, a lot of running hills, and I've been in Albuquerque with Greg Jackson's camp and running hills with the altitude is great for your cardio, working hard in the mountains. I also work more on my ground game, being able to control from the top and not let people get up when I'm on top. I think my accuracy in punching has improved as well.

Is Greg Jackson going to be in your corner against Brookins?
Yes, Greg Jackson and two of my coaches -- my boxing coach and my jiu jitsu coach -- from before I was on the show.

What are you expecting from this fight? Are you getting nervous for the biggest fight of your career?
I'm hoping this fight establishes me as someone who's getting close to where I want to be in the UFC. I feel pretty confident. All the nerves are pretty much gone. My camp went well, my cardio improved and I'm ready to start fighting. All my focus is on this fight, and I hope all this hard work will pay off for me in the UFC.

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