The Ultimate Fighter 31 bantamweight final kicked off the televised prelims at UFC 292, with Canada’s Brad Katona looking to become the first-ever two-time TUF champ when he took on Cody Gibson.
On a mostly drama-free season of the reality fighting series, Katona and Gibson had showed just a little animosity, with Gibson calling the SBG Ireland athlete a “boring” fighter. Katona had responded by suggesting Gibson’s talk was the product of fear.
The fight began with Katona putting on some forward pressure with Gibson doing well to evade most the strikes coming his way. Gibson began to work on the front foot but found himself getting caught with a right hand over the top. “The Renegade” began defending the strikes whilst throwing back himself and momentarily landed a big right hand on the chin of Katona. Gibson attempted to land an unorthodox standing hammer fist but didn’t find a home for it. As Katona began to try and close the long distance, Gibson’s right hand just kept landing flush on the chin of Katona. With just 30 seconds left of round one, the two clinched up in the centre of the Octagon whilst both trying to land their big strikes.
Straightaway in round two both men picked up where they left off and traded blows in the centre of the cage. Gibson’s size and pressure seemed to be working well for him, but Katona showed no signs of slowing down. A fast 1-2 landed for Gibson as Katona looked to work off his counter jab. As well as putting on hellacious forward pressure, Gibson started landing slick hooks to the body and Katona started to slow down momentarily. Having said that, just halfway into the round Katona landed a big right hook of his own, but Gibson carried on trying to walk him down. The damage began to wear on Katona and swelling began to be clearly visible beside Katona’s left eye. The Canadian then landed a big right hand stumbling Gibson back out of his pressure. It seemed as though Katona had found a second wind and was going into the final round with all the momentum.
The UFC broadcast began speculating that Brad Katona had informed his corner about and injury to his knee, but he didn’t seem to be hindered by anything. Katona ripped a 1-2 to the body after Gibson over-extended slightly. Not long after though, Gibson landed a big right hand of his own and Katona moved back out of danger rapidly. With just over two minutes left, Gibson landed another big right counter strike, rocking Katona again. The two men visually began to weather and although Katona came extremely close to finishing the fight, Gibson rocked the Canadian with a huge uppercut.
There were two unfortunate eventualities when the final horn sounded. One that the fight was over, and two was that one of these men wouldn’t be awarded with a UFC contract. It was Katona taking it on the scorecards, in what turned out to be a thrilling fight.
Official Result: Brad Katona def. Cody Gibson via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)