Brad Katona had some well-deserved time off.
The Ultimate Fighter 27 featherweight tournament winner took a much-needed break after a busy 2018, which saw him compete four times in the calendar year. On May 4th he’ll step back into the octagon opposite Merab Dvalishvili at UFC on ESPN+ 8 in Ottawa. For the SBG Ireland product, the timing for this matchup couldn’t be better.
“It’s just about timing, it worked out in that at least it’s the beginning of May.” Katona told MMA News. “It’s not like I’m waiting six months [for a fight]. Last year was a busy year being in the house. I think I fought a total of four times last year, which is good number. That time in the house messes with you too. I kind of got time to get back and recover the body. [Also] recover the mind. Every fighter you talk to wants to be active and I’m no different. But the time went by fairly quickly. It feels right to be fighting on our nation’s capital.”
Katona (8-0) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Matthew Lopez at UFC 231 in Toronto this past December. The 27-year-old defeated Kyler Phillips, Bryce Mitchell and Jay Cucciniello to take home The Ultimate Fighter 27 tournament crown. Now competing in his second straight fight in his natural weight class of bantamweight, the Winnipeg native won’t have one key member of his team with him on fight night.
“For this corner there’s a big card [Bellator Birmingham] going on May 4th as well. So John Kavanagh is not going to be there. But we got basically the second best person there, my original coach Curtis Brigham. He’s worked with me for seven fights now, six fights before I came to SBG Ireland and my last one. We got Curtis coming and then we’ll get training partners with me and it’s business as usual. Fight night, I talked to John about it and this isn’t one of those fights where the corner is going to play that big of a difference. If Merab exploits something, it’s something we should have fixed 8-10 weeks ago. It would be nice to have him, but a good teammate of mine Brian Moore is coming off a few losses and is making his bantamweight debut. It just makes sense to have John in his corner.”
Dvalishvili (8-4) is coming off his first UFC victory after defeating Terrion Ware by decision at UFC Fight Night 136. The Serra-Longo fighter snapped a two-fight losing streak with the victory and looks to break the undefeated streak of Katona. While the 28-year-old will likely be a betting underdog heading into the fight, Katona isn’t taking him lightly.
“Man it’s hard to really imagine a finish on Merab because he is so gritty. Now [saying that] I have the best possibility I think of anybody he’s fought to finish him anywhere. I think with the hands, especially how everything has been going. I’ve been finding other tools to compliment my striking. So I could catch him on the feet. But he is gritty so it would be hard to say it will be quick. If I do, it will be a small error he made. So that would be on him. Like I said he pushes a hard pace, but I think it has potential to be “Fight of the Night” just because of what type of fighter he is.”
UFC on ESPN+ 8 takes place May 4 at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The main event pits Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone against Al Iaquitna in a lightweight bout.