Boston, MA — Canada’s Brad Katona has had an interesting road to his The Ultimate Fighter 31 final at UFC 292 this Saturday.
Having won TUF 27 at featherweight a few years back, only to be released after four fights with the company, Katona (12-2) has the chance to become the first fighter in UFC history to win two Ultimate Fighter crowns.
The SBG Ireland bantamweight faces Cody Gibson on Saturday in Boston, and feels his road to this point has been harder than most.
“I knew it was going to be a hard road. I hoped it wouldn’t be this difficult, but here we are,” Katona told media outlets including Cageside Press during Wednesday’s UFC 292 media day. “Maybe everyone just thinks their journey is going to be the hardest, because that’s all they know. But mine feels like it was pretty hard, and it’s hardened me. I’m excited to show it on Saturday.”
Going through the Ultimate Fighter process a second time, “it was so much worse. So much worse,” Katona added. “The first time I did it, I said ‘that was cool, but I hope I never have to do it again.’ That is in one sentence. There you go.”
“After doing it a second time, I certainly don’t want to have to do it again. It was difficult. You had it at bantamweight instead of featherweight, the notice I had was maybe nine days. So it was a grind, but we got there, and look what I did with no preparation.”
If there was any drama on The Ultimate Fighter 31 — and there wasn’t much — it seemed to center around Brad Katona. A teammate of Conor McGregor at SBG Ireland, as a veteran, Katona was part of Michael Chandler’s opposing team. After the opening round, however, Katona switched sides to train alongside McGregor. And he appeared to butt heads with Cody Gibson, though Katona isn’t overly upset about how he was portrayed on the show.
“Watching it back, I don’t think they portrayed me poorly. I think there’s a lot more they could have shown, but I feel at least it’s been mixed, and maybe it’s created some controversy or something of interest in the show,” said Katona. “Because I felt they were erring more on the side of pure sports— here’s the training session, here’s the fight, that’s about it. I felt my episodes were pretty good though, so I was happy about that.”
Michael Chandler has predicted a Gibson knockout this Saturday, while Gibson himself said Katona was the most boring tape study he’s ever had. Katona responded to both on Wednesday.
“So Chandler still doesn’t like me? Okay. I don’t know why he has a little vendetta against me, maybe it’s because I switched teams, maybe because I’ve been successful or put up resistance,” said Katona. “I heard him say if he was in my shoes, he’d be doing the exact same thing. So that’s kind of funny. Not unexpected.”
Responding to Gibson’s jibe, Katona added “Do I care about Cody’s opinion, really? No. Not at all, no.”
Later, he would suggest Gibson’s trash talking on the show, which happened ahead of Katona’s semifinal fight with Timur Valiev, boiled down to fear, and Gibson not wanting to fight him.
“I can see right through it. It’s just, it’s fear. All that, saying ‘ahh I’m boring, I’m this.’ He’s scared of the grappling. I think after the Timur fight, he’s scared of the striking. It all stems in fear,” Katona exclaimed. “Why would he be doing this if it wasn’t out of fear? Why would he be trying to throw me off? Because he didn’t like me? We lived in that house for four weeks together, and we didn’t really argue. Maybe I ordered too many groceries for his liking, and that’s what he didn’t like.”
Just as Michael Chandler picked against him, Katona is picking against his former TUF 31 coach when it comes to the anticipated fight between “Iron” Mike and Conor McGregor. “I think it’s the Eddie Alvarez fight all over again.”
Watch the full UFC 292 media day appearance by Brad Katona above.