Team McGregor Falls to 0-5 on TUF 31 Care of SBG Ireland’s Brad Katona

Brad Katona, UFC
Brad Katona, UFC Vancouver Official Weigh-In Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

If the preview for the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter 31 had hinted at some sort of drama between Brad Katona and his team, what played out was a little less tense.

We’re recapping each and every episode of TUF 31 this season — turn back now if you’re not up-to-date with the show and wish to avoid spoilers!

With Team McGregor down 0-4 on the show, the episode opened with the usual training montage. Katona tells coach Michael Chandler that he wants to sit out a few wrestling practices, and “get in some other type of work.” As he points out to Chandler, with his fight quickly approaching, it’s not like he can just implement a brand new defensive style, and wants as much time to work on improving as possible, rather than focusing on areas he’s already strong in.

Katona knows that he might come off like a diva. “The Ultimate Fighter is a pressure cooker,” the Canadian points out.

Carlos Vera is excited to represent Ecuador, having arrived in America at age four. There’s one problem however: since Katona trains at SBG Ireland under John Kavanagh, the Team McGregor coach has stated he’ll be stepping back for this fight. Which means Vera is without one of the best minds on the show for this one.

“It is what it is. Fighting for me is not personal,” McGregor says of his own teammate fighting for Michael Chandler. Chandler selected the veterans after McGregor himself, choosing first to start the season, opted for coach the newcomers.

“I can’t promise a victory, but I can promise I’m going to go out and give my best performance,” Vera later tells the camera.

The fourth fight of the season kicks off with Karona driving Vera into the fence, and just under two minutes in, he gets his hands together and lands the double-leg takedown. Vera, however, is quickly back to his feet. He gets a couple of punches in, avoids a trip, and gets Vera back down. Vera tries to roll out, but can’t. Instead Katona winds up on top, in guard. Vera does make it make out, and they finish the first five minutes back on the feet.

Round two sees Vera working on the outside, mixing up his strikes and adding in a spinning back kick. Still, inside of the first minute, Katona has the fight down. Vera gives up his back trying to escape, and Katona takes advantage. He winds up with a body triangle locked on, hunting for a rear-naked choke. Vera fights the hands, and manages to reverse! That’s huge, with over three minutes remaining. The ref briefly halts the action to retrieve Vera’s mouthpiece, which has fallen out; on the restart he nearly loses the position, but regains top control. When Katona does get up, Vera hammers him a couple of times.

Katona would get the fight back down later in the round, getting some top time of his own in. Vera fires elbows off his back and palm strikes, and tries in vain for a late guillotine. After the horn sounds, McGregor calls for a third round. He doesn’t get it. McGregor is irate, pointing out that a world title fight is five rounds. “Let them have three rounds, judges.” As it turns out, the judges have made their decision — Katona has the unanimous decision.

McGregor is probably ruing the decision to choose the newcomers at this point. Brad Katona, Conor’s own teammate, has already won The Ultimate Fighter once. The fact that it’s McGregor’s own teammate who has put him down another fight on TUF 31 is strangely poetic. Team McGregor has a few more chances to get on the board, but it’s looking dicey.