Team Chandler’s Brad Katona used his ground game to control Team McGregor’s Carlos Vera and pick up a unanimous decision victory in the episode that aired Tuesday. With the win, Katona moves on to the bantamweight semifinals.
Let’s look at the biggest moments from Episode 5 and what’s ahead next week.
Editor’s note: The matchups for this season are determined by seeding. The coaches ranked their competitors in each division first through fourth. After the seeding was determined, the matchups were made in a tournament-style bracket.
Bantamweight: (2) Brad Katona, Team Chandler vs. (3) Carlos Vera, Team McGregor
And the coaches are at it! 🤬
Should the fights go three rounds moving forward?
— UFC_Asia (@UFC_Asia) June 28, 2023
Katona beats Vera by unanimous decision
It was another close fight on the show, the third consecutive fight to go to a decision, but it wasn’t enough from Team McGregor’s Vera, as Katona got his hand raised in the end.
Katona, who trains at the same gym as McGregor, SBG Ireland, was the winner of TUF Season 27 in 2017. His most recent fight was with Brave CF, where he was the bantamweight champion. Before his move to Brave CF, Katona fought in the UFC from 2018 to 2019, where he went 2-2. His past two fights ended in unanimous decision losses to Merab Dvalishvili and Hunter Azure, respectively.
During his fight with Vera, Katona showed that he can rely on his wrestling if he doesn’t like how the fight is going on the feet. On a team coached by a skilled wrestler like Chandler, Katona could get the knowledge he needs to make another run to become the first two-time TUF finale winner.
Storylines to watch
Trouble in paradise?
— The Ultimate Fighter (@UltimateFighter) June 28, 2023
Based on his actions during the episode, Katona may be the type of fighter many coaches would hate to work with. In sports, coaches hate players who feel they deserve special treatment — and that’s precisely what we saw from Katona in Episode 5.
Ahead of his fight against Vera, Katona made it clear to Chandler that he has different expectations than his coaching staff on how his fight preparation should go. While Chandler and his staff had planned to watch film on upcoming opponents outside of training and bring those thoughts back to the gym to coach the team, Katona wanted things done another way. He wanted to sit with the coaches, presumably separate from the other film sessions, to watch the film and form a game plan. He also wanted to train differently from the rest of his team.
“Chandler, at this point, is kind of fed up with me,” Katona said. “It’s like, ‘Listen, my life would be so much easier without the giant diva, Brad, always wanting to do something special.'”
While Katona is entirely justified in putting himself first — considering that although this is a team-based show, only one fighter from each weight class can win in the finale — his approach could have been different. In regular team sports, giving players special treatment takes time and effort. On a show like “The Ultimate Fighter,” it could be even more of an issue, because the extra focus Katona is asking for could take away from the attention Chandler and his staff still have to provide the other seven fighters on the team.
Clearly, it was affecting Katona’s teammates’ perception of him.
In addition to the training and film requests, Katona appeared to upset his teammates when he held up their travels from the gym back to the TUF house by talking with the Team McGregor coaches.
“I think he’s definitely being a diva,” teammate Roosevelt Roberts said. “I feel like he just don’t want to be on the team. He wants to be with the other team.”
With Katona picking up another win for Team Chandler this week, things could get spicy as the show continues. We’ll see how this situation unfolds.
Next week’s matchup
Lightweight: (4) Kurt Holobaugh, Team Chandler vs. (1) Lee Hammond, Team McGregor
Here’s everything we know about these two fighters:
UFC record: 0-4
Fighting out of: Denham Springs, Louisiana
• Last fought with Xtreme Fighting Championships
• Made first UFC appearance in 2013 against Steven Siler
• Fought on “Dana White’s Contender Series” in 2017
• Second stint in UFC from 2018 to 2019; fought Raoni Barcelos, Shane Burgos and Thiago Moises
UFC record: N/A
Fighting out of: Dublin
• Last fought with Eire Fighting Championship
• One Bellator win over Jamie Hay in 2022
• Trains at SBG Ireland, the same gym as McGregor