Michael Johnson: Photo Courtesy | Spike TV
This week, we begin with Michael Johnson bellowing expletives in a fashion that would make Dana White as proud as punch.
Johnson was on the receiving end of a cold blast of water thanks to “some little child [that] put rubber bands on the sprayers.” Thankfully “rubber bands on the sprayers” isn’t a dirty euphemism. He’s talking about the faucet and, once again, Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres’ pranks are really getting under his skin.
Johnson instantly leaps into an argument with Alex. These tiffs are becoming more frequent, and “Bruce Leroy” is always bearing a smile. Johnson begs him to bring that smile with him into the ring when they fight.
While these two simmer in a hate-filled stew, two other fighters are preparing for their quarterfinal scrap. Kyle Watson and his coach Georges St. Pierre prepare for Aaron Wilkinson’s striking skills by planning to take him the heck down and keep it there.
Wilkinson and his coach Josh Koscheck are diametrically opposed.
“’English’ needs to keep it standing,” Koscheck says bluntly. “English” says that Koscheck gave him a knowing glace, cautioning him to respect his “second chance at life” in the competition.
There’s not much pre-fight fanfare between these two, so we get right to it in the cage.
After 30 seconds of circling each other, Watson scores a trip takedown. He instantly smothers and covers Watson, keeping him from getting up.
“Kyle, put his head against the fence!” yells St. Pierre authoritatively.
Watson mounts Wilkinson, but chooses to wait to look for any offense. Once Wilkinson tries to buck, Watson takes his back and patiently waits until “English” is scrunched up against the fence. From here, Watson gets the rear-naked choke and taps Wilkinson just before the first round ends.
Wilkinson and his coach can’t believe he got caught that simply.
“Bit of a joke. Embarrassed for everyone who knows me,” says a dejected Wilkinson, after not being able to perform the defensive maneuvers he’s picked up while on TUF.
“Rear-naked choke. Another one. How many rear-naked chokes have my team...I mean,” says Koscheck, trailing off, baffled by the outcome.
Now, GSP’s squad has a grudge match to settle between teammates Michael Johnson and Alex Caceres.
“The best way to take care of that is to have them fight each other,” says St. Pierre, who lobbied hard for Johnson and Caceres to fight one another.
Caceres thinks it’s an advantage that Johnson hates him, saying “he picked me just on emotional reasons” and that “it’s a mistake on his part.”
“He’s got good stand-up, his wrestling defense is good. Great afro,” muses Dana White, who is confused as to why people see “Bruce Leroy” as an easy foe for Johnson.
Famed boxing coach Freddie Roach took a minute out of his busy schedule to spread some knowledge to the young men from Team GSP.
“That was a hell of an experience,” says an excited Brookins, who shows more emotion in that training segment than any of his fights.
Johnson and Caceres also get to work with Roach. Roach remarks on Johnson’s speed and opines that Caceres’s stick-and-move style could be very effective.
However, Johnson has a tried-and-true method of his own, saying that he likes to “put dudes down, let ‘em up, only to put them down again.” Johnson claims that this process typically breaks his opponent’s will. He also isn’t worried about “Bruce Leroy,” saying that the “spinning tornado s--t” doesn’t work in a cage.
At the weigh-ins, Koscheck is relentless, voicing aloud that GSP is sacrificing Caceres, since he is his weakest link. Koscheck says he’ll be in Caceres’ corner when they fight, just because he feels the kid is being wronged.
As the two face off, someone from the bleachers makes the tired joke that this fight was “black-on-black crime,” to which Johnson quickly retorts, “He’s not black.”
True to his word, Caceres is smiling like a fool when he gets in the ring. Johnson has offered to wipe that smile off numerous times, so it’s no surprise when he comes in swinging for the fences.
Johnson grabs Caceres, snatching him up for a slam. The first round mostly goes Michael Johnson’s way. He presses the action and keeps Caceres from getting off with any of his nifty tricks. “Bruce Leroy” plays catch-up while Johnson pours on the power shots that keep Caceres from finding his rhythm.
“He’s dead tired,” Brookins tells Caceres between rounds. However, round two begins with Caceres leaping toward Johnson with a “Superman” punch, for which he’s thrown to the ground.
“Bruce Leroy” is squirmy and shrimps enough to get his guard back and for a moment, is able to take top position when Johnson goes for his back. Caceres punishes Johnson with elbows, and a hard body shot. However, Johnson quickly forces his way back to his feet and gets another takedown.
Johnson postures up with punches and elbows. Caceres’ corner reminds him to stand back up, but as he gets to his feet, Johnson catches him flush on the chin and is able to dump him on the mat one last time, effectively putting the fight away for good.
“He kept good movement and didn’t give me good shots to hit him with,” Johnson says of the bout. “I feel different about Alex after a 10-minute fight with him.”
“I didn’t do a very good job of avoiding his takedowns,” Caceres admits.
GSP says it was “beautiful fight,” and Dana White concurs. Naturally, there’s one dissenting party.
“What the f--k were you watching?” questions Koscheck, blaming what he thought to be a boring affair on, of course, GSP. The decision comes in for Johnson, 20-18 on all cards.
With the semi-finals looming, White brings the two coaches into his office and is surprised when both coaches instantly agree on the same fights he suggests. Dana is taken aback by the diplomacy.
Jonathan Brookins will be fighting Kyle Watson and Michael Johnson will meet Nam Phan. Not an upset in the bunch, since these four proved their mettle this season.
While the coaches may have agreed on the match-ups, Koscheck doesn’t let us get out of the hour without one last reminder, saying “I think my relationship with GSP is right there,” holding up his middle finger.