TUF 27 winner Brad Katona is set to compete in his home country of Canada on Dec. 8 when he faces Matthew Lopez. Since winning the featherweight tournament this past July, Katona is still surprised people recognize him while training in another country.
“Things have been pretty cool since The Ultimate Fighter,” Katona explained. “It was a big stage to be on. The most shocking part is walking around Dublin and being recognized some places. To me that’s really cool because it’s not my home city. It’s just coming to a year of me living in Dublin. The amount that has changed in that year, it’s crazy to think about it. It feels much longer than that. Now it’s coming to terms of being a UFC fighter. Now I’m going to be fighting the best of the best. Everything is done with a purpose now. Everything matters at this level. I’m looking at ways at looking better.”
Katona (7-0) defeated Kyler Phillips, Bryce Mitchell and Jay Cucciniello to capture the 145-pound tournament crown. For this matchup he’s dropping back down to his natural weight class of bantamweight. Despite his opponent coming off two losses in a row, the Winnipeg native isn’t taking his opponent lightly.
“Matthew Lopez is a tough opponent. He seems to have a heavy left hand and he has quite the wrestling credentials. I think I’m just a complete fighter. I’m going to crack him, the problems been solved by a bunch of other guys. Raphael Assuncao did it, who is one of the best in the world. I don’t see myself off that target. This is just another setup in that direction of me fighting the top 15, top 10 guys. I think I match up quite well. To be making that my bantamweight debut in the UFC in Toronto is quite exciting.”
With that said, The SBG Ireland product is confident in his abilities in the 135-pound division. Which is why he doesn’t just want to pick up a victory on Dec. 8, he wants to put the rest of the division on notice.
“I’m looking to make a statement at bantamweight. I’m very confident in my abilities. I’m not overlooking my opponent. Matthew Lopez has been solved but by some pretty legit fighters. He is coming off two losses, so there is that little desperation with him. But it could fuel him for this camp. At bantamweight I feel world class.”
UFC 231 takes place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is headlined by Max Holloway defending his featherweight title against Brian Ortega.