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Brad Katona of Canada celebrates victory against Matthew Lopez of the United States in a bantamweight bout during the UFC 231 event at Scotiabank Arena on December 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
The Ultimate Fighter

Meet Bantamweight Brad Katona | The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs Team Chandler

Get To Know Katona And The Rest Of The Season 31 Cast On ESPN And ESPN+

Brad Katona is just one of many hopefuls looking to make a name for themselves on the most epic season of The Ultimate Fighter yet. With legendary coaches Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler on opposite sides of the Octagon, the stakes have never been higher. Let’s meet the Bantamweights and Lightweights that make up the season 31 cast.

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UFC Record: 2-2

Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Fighting Out Of: SBG Ireland in Dublin, Ireland

Age: 31

Quick Stat: Won The Ultimate Fighter Season 27

Brad Katona of Canada celebrates after defeating Jay Cucciniello of Ireland in their featherweight bout during The Ultimate Fighter Finale event inside The Pearl concert theater at Palms Casino Resort on July 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Brad Katona of Canada celebrates after defeating Jay Cucciniello of Ireland in their featherweight bout during The Ultimate Fighter Finale event inside The Pearl concert theater at Palms Casino Resort on July 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff B

What does it feel like to be a part of The Ultimate Fighter season 31?

Man, it’s a chance to make history. One of the coaches is the original champ-champ and there’s never been a champ-champ of The Ultimate Fighter, so I get to do it actually at two different weight classes, too. It’s a chance to make history, which is good.

What was your first reaction when you were told that you were going to be on The Ultimate Fighter?

Just relief. I was already told that I wasn’t going to be on this season, so I already dealt with that, and then I get told I am on the season and then the excitement that fuels that, it’s just a weight that’s lifted. I felt like it was three or four years of bad news and ‘no,’ seeing if I’d pull through. Now I’m here, so it’s a weight that’s lifted off and it felt like if you push enough times, eventually, they go ‘OK, you want a shot?’ I knew the road was going to be tough with the fighters here. They’re a bunch of killers, so it’s probably the most stacked season that there has been. My first season had some pretty good guys, but this season is going to be fire, and my road is always going to be tough. I know that, and I know that I’m ready for it.

MORE TUF 31 CAST: Mando Gutierrez | Cody Gibson | Rico DiSciullo | Hunter Azure | Nate Jennerman | Kurt Holobaugh | Jason Knight | Austin Hubbard | Trevor Wells | Carlos Vera

What have you learned about yourself since your first stint and how has all of that experience shaped you for this moment?

had the youthful energy, and that flexibility to just go with the flow. And over the years since 2019 into a pandemic year, if you weren’t fighting for the UFC, you weren’t fighting. So I had to go watch guys that I’ve beaten go run three fights that year, and go to Fight Island and do all that. Then I sign with a promotion which only put me against killer after killer after killer. I’ve gone to Kazakhstan and Bahrain, their hometowns against some of the best and won a title and defended it. That definitely changes you. As well as the entire time watching what other people are getting and you’re not getting it, and some of these guys here, they’re in the same boat. Seeing these guys like, ‘why not me?’ I had to go on a three-fight win streak to get here; I had to capture a title and defend it, so I’m a different fighter, but still with the same spirit.

What was your reaction when you heard Michael Chandler and Conor McGregor were going to be the coaches this season?

You know when it was Conor and Chandler as coaches, I thought, man, this season is going to be big. There’s an energy about it, you know everyone’s talking about it, and to be part of that is exciting and I don’t know how many times I can say exciting, but it is that. I kept saying that the first time I was here. I wasn’t just trying to enjoy it and not take it seriously, but that’s what I mean by the weight is lifted. This is where I know I belong. If you talk to every MMA fan, they know I belong in here, so now it’s time to just prove it again.

Get To Know Bantamweight Brad Katona | The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs Team Chandler
Get To Know Bantamweight Brad Katona | The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs Team Chandler

What would you learn from Michael Chandler?

If I am on Michael Chandler ‘s team, it’s a completely new system so, just like the first time I did the show, I got to see the style training that DC has. This time I get to see Kill Cliff and how Michael Chandler does things, which is going to bring on a lot of knowledge. He is a former champion and he’s been around a very long time and he has great coaches with him. The Kill Cliff staff are fantastic. They produced top level talent. They fought at the highest of levels, so to have those guys, it’s a new system, and it’s all information that I can extract and squeeze and I am certainly looking forward to that.

What would you learn from Conor McGregor?

I’m teammates with Conor, but having him as a coach where he’s going to be watching my possible opponents, he has a very keen eye and that’s why he was able to knock out José Aldo in 13 seconds. It’s the same thing with Eddie Alvarez; he has a very, very keen eye, and yes, he brings composure and a great skill set and all of that into the cage, but he can watch fighters and pick out key details, so having him as a coach would be quite exciting because it’s something that I haven’t been able to tap into but I would be able to now.

What do you think is going to be your toughest challenge in making it to the end?

The first time, I tried to enjoy it as much as possible because it’s a meat grinder in the house. You don’t think it is when you’re doing it and you think, it’s fine, it’s fine, and then you realize at the end of it how burnt out you are. It’s just all the little stuff. You’re always on edge slightly, you’re never fully relaxed, you’re never fully yourself, you’re never fully switched off. You have to be mindful and do that as much as you can and find your routine and just enjoy the process and enjoy waking up. How alien it is to wake up in a mansion, on a reality show, there’s a camera over there, camera over there, you put on your microphone, and they call you for an interview and it’s just enjoying how completely strange and alien that is. Also, it’s been something I’ve been watching since season one, so it’s been over half my life of watching this show, and finally being here, I know I’ve succeeded. The first time was just enjoying it, and then this time I have to make sure that I do that again. What’s difficult this time around is I have all of those preconceived notions from last time - the good, the bad, the challenges - and I have to make sure that doesn’t cloud my enjoyment of it or give me false expectations. It’s a completely different show this time, so it’s not going to be just like last time. It’s not, it’s gonna be completely new and so I’m just gonna just enjoy it.

Before The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs Team Chandler Preview Show

Why are you going to be the winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 31?

It all comes down to choices. You know it all comes down to choices over your career and what you’ve done when there’s been setbacks or successes and my systems just being slightly different than everyone else’s. I don’t mean that by pushing others’ process, but if you look at my fights, I’m different every single time. It’s not the same old. I go from getting out wrestled by Merab (Dvalishvili) to fighting high-level wrestlers and shutting them down flat-out numerous times in my last fight. That was a separation, but that work was done right after that Merab fight and that’s the difference. That’s what I’ve been each time - there’s exponential growth and I believe that’s why come fight day I bring it, and when I bring me, it generally works out. That’s why I’m gonna be the champ-champ.