Michael Johnson and Jonathan Brookins, teammates under coach Georges St-Pierre during the 12th season of The Ultimate Fighter, meet Saturday night in the show's finale.
The card, which will be televised live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. EST from The Pearl at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, will also feature numerous TUF veterans, including Season One runner-up Stephan Bonnar and Season Three champion Kendall Grove. Bonnar, who lost to Forrest Griffin in TUF's inaugural season, headlines the card against Igor Pokrajac. Grove fights Demian Maia in a middleweight bout.
After living and training together for six weeks, both Johnson and Brookins know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Johnson received an extra boost when he cornered Kyle Watson in his semifinal bout with Brookins.
"When you watch these guys fight, you need to be cheering them on because they're your teammates," Johnson said. "But, you also need to be kind of scouting them out and seeing how you can beat them because later on down the line, you're going to eventually fight them.
"Me corning Watson against Jonathan, I certainly saw certain things I think I can capitalize on."
With several months between the show's taping and the live finale, both fighters know they will see some differences in their opponent.
"It might have helped a little bit more if we were fighting a week after the semifinal fights," said Brookins. "But since you have so much time since we left the house, you're not really fighting that same guy that you knew. . . . But you're not going in blind. You know the person."
Also on the card: middleweights Rich Attonito vs. Dave Branch; welterweights Johny Hendricks vs. Rick Story; lightweights Cody McKenzie vs. Aaron Wilkinson and Sako Chivitchian vs. Kyle Watson; featherweights Fredson Paixao vs. Pablo Garza and Tyler Toner vs. Ian Loveland; and bantamweights Will Campuzano vs. Nick Pace.
-- Strikeforce's St. Louis card set for Saturday night experienced major upheaval over the past two weeks.
Herschel Walker was forced to pull out of his scheduled fight with Scott Carson after he sustained a deep cut under his left eye from a knee strike by AKA teammate Daniel Cormier during training at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. The cut required multiple stitches.
"I feel terrible about this," Walker said. "I know things like this happen in all sports, but I had trained very hard and was excited to be returning to the cage again. I hope to fight again as soon as the cut heals."
Ovince St. Preux will fight Benji Radach in the spot vacated by Walker. Also, heavyweight Antonio Silva saw his fight against Valentijn Overeem, the older brother of Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, reshuffled. Overeem, who injured his elbow, will be replaced by Mike Kyle.
The remainder of the card, to be televised live from the Scottrade Center on Showtime at 10 p.m. EST, will be headlined by a rematch of Dan Henderson and Renato "Babalu" Sobral. The two met 10 years ago, and Henderson secured the victory. Top middleweights Robbie Lawler and Matt Lindland face off, as does top welterweights Paul Daley and Scott Smith.
-- Strikeforce founder and CEO Scott Coker remains optimistic Fedor Emelianenko, who has one fight remaining on his deal with Strikeforce, will re-sign.
Emelianenko, thought to be the top world's top heavyweight in recent years, saw his streak of 28 consecutive victories snapped by Fabricio Werdum in June.
"It has been quite a long road with the M-1 camp and trying to get this done but I agree there is a light at the end of the tunnel," Coker said. "But we welcome Fedor to have a long-term deal to fight with Strikeforce on Showtime."