Canada’s Brad Katona easily controlled Jay Cucciniello on the way to becoming the Ultimate Fighter champion on Friday in Las Vegas.
In the first of two Ultimate Fighter tournament finales Friday night at the TUF 27 Finale in Las Vegas, Canada’s Brad Katona met up with Ireland’s Jay Cucciniello. The international flavor to the affair added to its allure; if either fighter could put on a solid run in the UFC, they could have a nation behind them. Something that, as Georges St. Pierre and Conor McGregor inch closer towards retirement, is much needed for the UFC to retain its hold on the fan base in each country.
Yes, both countries have other elite fighters, but none of late have worn gold in the UFC (the closest to achieving that feat would be Rory MacDonald, now welterweight champion in Bellator).
Both fighters were undefeated entering the night, something the premise of the entire season was based upon. ‘Undefeated’ was the title of season twenty-seven of TUF, though a misnomer given Cucciniello, for one, had lost as an amateur.
Still, the gimmick gave the season a theme, as if something more than “fighting your way into the UFC” was necessary.
When the action got underway, Katona worked from the outside. He’d need to close the distance, but his first takedown attempt was easily turned away. He fired off a calf kick, and another moments later. Cucciniello, meanwhile, attacked with a knee. Katona kept his movement up, stepping side to side and staying out of the danger zone as Cucciniello backed him up. Cucciniello, though, was able to land a combination. Katona answered with a right. The Canadian went upstairs with a kick, and while Cucciniello blocked it, he was dropped by Katona moments later! That knockdown may have stolen a close round.
In the second round, another big left hook led to a knockdown for Brad Katona. As he did in the first, he maintained composure rather than charging in to force a finish. With plenty of time left they’d wind up on the ground anyway with Katona on top in guard. He passed to half guard, but Cucciniello was able to maneuver him back into his guard. Still, having spent most of the round in control, and with two knockdowns in two rounds, Katona headed to the third firmly in control. Jay Cucciniello, meanwhile, who had been eliminated in the show but brought back as an injury replacement, would need to start thinking finish.
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Despite that pressing need for a finish, Cucciniello found himself on his back early in the third, with Katona again controlling him. With time winding down he’d end up giving up his back, eating a barrage of punches. It would go the distance, but it was as one-sided as they come. And with that, Canada’s Brad Katona was crowned The Ultimate Fighter at featherweight for season twenty-seven.
Brad Katona def. Jay Cucciniello by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)