Jonathan Brookins may have stood on top of the mixed martial arts heap last December but he’s looking forward to returning to the sport’s grassroots this month in Trail.
Brookins will join former Pride Gym fighter Cody McKenzie as special guests for the AM Ford Fight Night at the Cominco Arena on April 16.
The 25-year-old Brookins rose to prominence in the MMA ranks after defeating Michael Johnson in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show finale.
The win netted Brookins a three-year, six-figure contract with The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Pride Gym trainer and promoter Glen Kalesniko met Brookins during the TUF finale and they worked together in McKenzie’s corner during his January bout in Texas.
The new friends hit it off well and Kalesniko decided to invite Brookins to come up for the AM Ford Fight Night.
“He asked me if I could come up and I was more than happy to support him,” said Brookins from his home in Florida.
“Cody told me it’s a great show and a lot of fun so I’m stoked about that.”
Kalesniko watched Brookins interact with fans and thought he’d be a perfect fit for the Trail crowd.
“I think the people of Trail would like to meet him,” he explained. “He is a real Zen kind of guy. And he was really good with the fans down in Texas.”
Brookins admits he’s very laid back, much like McKenzie, and perhaps that’s why he connected with Kalesniko immediately.
“After the finale I met Glen and I just thought he was an incredible person. I gravitated towards his personality.
“Me and Cody are very free spirited and Glen is the type of guy who can keep guys like me and Cody in check and that’s cool.”
McKenzie and Brookins bonded during the filming of the reality series, which pits 14 fighters in closed environment battling through elimination bouts until the two finalists meet.
“Me and Cody have remained friends,” said Brookins. “I think he’s an incredible person and incredible fighter.”
Brookins said life has changed dramatically since the notoriety of his TUF victory and the UFC demands that followed.
“It’s been crazy but it’s been a blessing,” he said. “It’s something I couldn’t be more thankful for.
“It’s a little more fast-paced and it requires a little more work and effort and that’s okay with me.”
Brookins is scheduled to fight June 4 in Las Vegas. That night will feature the finale of the current season of TUF, which features coaches Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos.