The Severe Spotlight: Brad Katona

The Ultimate Fighter is a tough program to be a part of. Six weeks in a house with a group of athletes. A pseudo team is created with the underlying understanding that at a certain point, you may have to fight with the people who you are training with. Developing your skill set under, showing your vulnerability too. Six weeks away from families, with no access to phones or social media.

Brad Katona became the unlikely first athlete to win TUF twice with his win over Cody Gibson in a fantastic 135lb fight. These two smashed each other so hard all the treats from their respective vending machines was littered over the floor of the octagon by the end of the 15 minutes.

The fight began with both men coming fast out of the blocks. Gibson the man moving forward, landing with his straighter shots. Katona looking to circle, plant his feet and land with counter hooks. The exchanges were hectic, both men locked tightly into the micro battles. Gibson trying to maraud and crowd Katona, led to several very intense pocket exchanges. Katona began to find a rhythm and a range for the inside low kicks followed by the hands. He would offer up either a lashing low kick or a placed low kick to allow for more or less power generation in the punches thrown immediately after.

This whilst only making a percentile difference in Gibson’s forward pressure and output, forced Gibson’s respect because he was unaware of exactly what should be defended at what point.

The introduction of collar ties made for more intense clinch exchanges, both men serving up a modern twist of Frye vs Takayama.

Katona made another very nice read when he cut an inside slip and landing a clean short elbow to break up the Gibson advances. As the round drew to a close, Gibson was wearing the fatigue of his labour, a slight swelling under his right eye and an aura of a tough five minutes – Katona on the other hand, lofted his arms into the air at the klaxon.

A very high output, close round of fighting from the two finalists.

A strong start for the Canadian-Irishman at the beginning of the second. He went right back to the inside low kick to the upper body hitting, but a new wrinkle entered the arsenal for both men. Body shots. Katona cutting hard angles to find the left hook to the body before rotating the torque through his core to find a right hook over the top forced a backstep or two from Gibson.

Both men banging away at the body created a new avenue to the clinch exchanges. A read from Katona was to allow the collar tie from Gibson, knowing it had committed a hand to the engagement. Katona then used the hand that wasn’t launching knuckles into Gibson’s chin to tuck up and roll into the uppercuts coming back from Gibson, taking them on the elbows and the forearms. A smart understanding that the collar tie is an anchor to the position so he might as well utilise a free hand to win the exchange with solid defence.

Gibson made his own adjustment in the next episode of clinch exchanges, by taking the same collar tie and banging away to the body instead, hoping to open up the head of Katona who instead, rolled with the shots and landed a huge left hook up top.

The low kick to left hand of Katona proliferated the final couple of minutes of round two before the best shot of the round landed from Katona, a shuffle uppercut right through the middle of the Gibson guard, staggering him backward.

Gibson visibly hurting from the cleaner shots landed by Katona in this second.

The third and final round was a whirlwind of momentum shifts. Gibson and his corner aware that they dropped the second came out hard in the third, Gibson going right back to the stalking and crowding that got him success in the first round looking to have found a second wind.

That success was punctuated by a huge right hand inside the first two minutes that clattered into the Katona jaw.

Katona, to his credit, kept his cool and went right back to the circling game – with a slightly new wrinkle. He in this third and final round had accumulated enough reads to know where and how to get to Gibson both in the body and up top and so would circle enough to draw Gibson in and then plant his feet and unleash with whatever power he had.

With just over a minute to go, all roads were leading to a Gibson round. With the second round a clear Katona round the scorecards would have come down to that close first round. Katona lands a three piece in a clinch exchange, two uppercuts and a left hook round the corner. Pushes Gibson away with a 1-2 straight combination. Gibson leans his head forward to beckon on pressure and eats two more shots for his luck.

A seemingly regular right hand to the left eye of Gibson then causes a huge reaction, Gibson’s right hand immediately goes to paw and his eye as he backs up. The flurry begins, a wild 10 seconds of Katona leaping into big power shots, sensing his chance to put Gibson away. Gibson shows his toughness by slipping a shot and landing a big uppercut to ensure Katona stays honest.

But the tide was turned and the remaining 67 seconds Katona is firmly in the ascendency, likely turning the judges’ scorecards to him and securing his second TUF title. Welcome back to the UFC, Brad Katona.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.