GLENDALE - It's a rather safe assumption that lightweight fighter Jonathan Brookins wouldn't exactly be considered a fan-favorite in the world of Glendale mixed martial arts.
On the latest episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" on Wednesday night, Brookins defeated Sako Chivichyan via first-round rear-naked choke in the quarterfinals of the lightweight tournament. The fight came not long after Brookins defeated Sevak Magakian in similar fashion during a preliminary bout.
Chivichyan's loss plays out almost as a carbon copy of Magakian's defeat, as Brookins took both down early in the first round before taking his opponent's back and sinking in a choke.
The two exchange jabs early on, before Chivichyan goes for a 1-2 combo.
Brookins shoots in for a takedown, but Chivichyan defends it nicely, but Brookins has the clinch he wants. As the two grapple against the cage, Chivichyan has the advantage, but Brookins steps back and uses Chivichyan's momentum for a belly-to-belly throw, the same technique he used against Magakian. From top position, Brookins deftly moves to Chivichyan's back where the latter goes from standing to his back. Brookins patiently locks up up Chivichyan before working his right arm under the chin. Chivichyan does his best to fight the choke, but Brookins sinks it in and notches the tapout at 2:52.
Not all is lost for Josh Koscheck's team, of which Chivichyan and Magakian are a part of, as Nam Phan, another Southern California fighter, notches a technical knockout of Cody McKenzie in the second round of their bout.
The episode began with emphasis on the impending Chivichyan-Brookins fight, showing Chivichyan and Magakian conversing outside the 'TUF' house.
"Sak, you gotta do this, bro. I don't care, you gotta, you gotta beat him, man," Magakian says. "Whatever it takes."
"Definitely gonna leave everything out there," Chivichyan replies. "Everything."
"I couldn't do it," Magakian says, "now you gotta do it."
And the underlying storyline of Chivichyan fighting the competitor who defeated his friend and longtime training partner becomes abundantly clear.
"Jonathan fought my friend Sevak in the house and, you know, he pulled off the victory," Chivichyan says in a confessional. "It's gonna be a bigger demand for me personally, right now to go in there harder and to go in there and just prove him wrong that, you know what, you might get away with it once, but not twice."
The episode shifts to Team GSP's training with Brookins making it known that he's well-aware of the challenge in front of him.
"I'm fighting Sako, I think he's super-tough, I think he's a really talented guy," Brookins says in a commentary. "I think that anytime you go and you fight somebody after you fought one of their friends, they're gonna come at you hard with more ferociousness and like a vendetta. They're gonna come after you. I'm expecting him to come out really tough and definitely come out swinging. It kinda makes me excited."
Transferring to training for Team Koscheck, Koscheck is discussing the importance of Chivichyan not giving up his back to Brookins to avoid the choke.
Chivichyan reveals that he believes Brookins is the best fighter on GSP's team, but he won't give him his back.
Hence, the gameplan for Chivichyan is to keep the fight standing and go for the knockout.
In the end, that doesn't happen, obviously, as Brookins is able to take the fight to the ground and take Chivichyan's back to secure a choke and a victory.
Chivichyan's visibly upset, particularly with himself for not following the gameplan of keeping space between himself and Brookins. It's also the first taste of defeat for the 5-0 fighter, though the taped fights are exhibitions and do not count on the fighters' records.