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Maggie Hendricks

What you need to know from the second-to-last episode of TUF

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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After a week off for Thanksgiving, we're back for a supersized episode of "The Ultimate Fighter," the last show before Saturday's finale. Read on for a recap of the two-hour episode, complete with Glen "Big Baby" Davis, spoilers and the match-up for Saturday's TUF 12 final.

Dilemma of the week: Team GSP has fighters in the semifinals, so Jonathan Brookins and Kyle Watson have to face each other. GSP tells them he's not going to work with either of them on strategy, and that they need to find their own cornermen.

The problem with this match-up, according to GSP's coach John Danaher, is that this fight should be the final. He sees Brookins and Watson as the two best fighters from this cast.

Lack of motivation for the week: Team Kos has just one fighter left, and the fighters are left to fend for themselves. Koscheck and his coaches aren't as interested in running practices, and his fighters aren't happy about it.

They let off steam at the house, where Marc Stevens shows off his pitch-perfect Josh Koscheck impersonation. Of course, Kos walks in during the middle of it. He lets it go and serves up a round of shots.

Free spirit of the week: Brookins unapologetically dances to the beat of his own drummer. He knows he's different from the rest of the fighters, but he also is incredibly focused on winning the show.

Dangerous game of the week: Nam Phan is earning the reputation of a two-face among his teammates and Team GSP. He tries to find out all that he can about his opponent in the semifinals, Michael Johnson, by talking to Johnson's teammates. Of course, this comes back and blows up in his face as Johnson and Phan's own teammates call him out on it.

Fight One of the Week: Jonathan Brookins (Team GSP) vs. Kyle Watson (Team GSP)

Round one: Brookins controlled Watson throughout the round. He was able to take Watson down, keep him from accomplishing anything on the ground, and held an edge in stand-up. He even came close to finishing Watson near the end of the round, throwing a flurry of uncontested ground-and-pound.

Round two: Brookins continues the same game, controlling Watson's every move, but does slow down this round. He can still explode with power, but isn't as effective as in the last round.

Round three: (All semifinal bouts go three rounds, unlike the other TUF bouts.) Brookins heads straight to the clinch to start the round, but Watson is able to defend it this time. He cannot defend the takedown, however, and Brookins brings the fight back to the ground. Watson postures back up to his feet, but Brookins does not let go of the clinch. The fight continued this way until the final horn sounded.

All three judges scored it 30-27 for Brookins, the first finalist.

Brookins has found a huge fan in Dana White, who calls Brookins "phenomenal," and says that he hasn't seen anyone who is as humble and respectful as Brookins, considering his talent.

Lame prank of the week: Team Koscheck suspects that Phan, their one remaining fighter, is taking long showers to indulge in a private moment. (You can guess for yourself what that means.) They bust in on him, then tease him, and really draw out the joke on a guy who will soon be representing them. They try to bring Koscheck in on the joke, but he points out, "Nam's winning. Let him keep doing what he's doing."

Celebrity cameo of the week: BIG BABY! In the dressing room, just as Koscheck quiets his team down to let Phan concentrate, White walks in with the Boston Celtic Glen Davis. If there is only one reason to love Big Baby, this is it:

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Fight of the Week: Michael Johnson (Team GSP) vs. Nam Phan (Team Koscheck)

Round one: Phan said he was worried about Johnson's big double-legged takedown. He was right to be, as Johnson took him down and let him up twice in the first minute of the bout. The second let-up may have been a mistake, as Johnson ate a ton of strikes from Phan. Sick of taking shots, Johnson used the blast double again and took Phan straight to the fence. This happened several times throughout the fight. With around two minutes left, Johnson let his hands go and threw a nasty knee, opening up a cut over Phan's eye.

Round two: Phan's movement kept Johnson from trying takedowns as the round began. Phan landed a hard body shot that brought a chorus of "Awwwws!" from many in the gym. He then stuffed a single-leg takedown attempt from Johnson and used it to land several punches on Johnson's face. But Johnson got back to his feet, and recovered by landing strikes as the round ended.

At this point, Cagewriter has it even.

Round three: The pace slowed in this round, with Johnson easily taking the fight to the ground, but he wasn't able to do much from that position. Phan got back to his feet but wasn't landing the hard shots that he did in the second. Johnson, on the other hand, unleashed his hands several times, but also awkwardly ducked out of the way of strikes.

White called the bout a "dogfight" and a "war." It was definitely the best fight of this season of "The Ultimate Fighter."

The judges have it 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 for Johnson, meaning he'll fight teammate Jonathan Brookins in the finale on Saturday. That makes it an all-GSP final, and Koscheck is the odd coach out.

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