Winnipeg’s Brad Katona living the dream
If fighting doesn’t pay off, Brad (Superman) Katona has a degree in mechanical engineering in his back pocket.
But so far so good for the 26-year-old from Winnipeg.
Katona, competing as a featherweight, won “The Ultimate Fighter Undefeated” reality TV show in July with a unanimous decision over Jay Cucciniello in Las Vegas. On Saturday, returning to his more familiar bantamweight division, Katona (8-0-0) faces American Matthew Lopez (10-4-0) on the undercard of UFC 231 at Scotiabank Arena. While Katona is new to fighting as a career, he is a veteran of martial arts. He took his first karate class at five — he and his brother were Power Ranger fans so chose karate over hockey — and got his black belt at 14. Their father, a UFC fan, then put them into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. He continued his MMA studies during high school and his time as the University of Manitoba, hitting the books while punching opponents. His first pro fight was October 2014.
“I definitely feel like sport helped me at school as well as getting that engineering degree helped me in sport,” said Katona. “An engineer knows how to solve problems and that’s what every day in the training room is.”
“The sad part is you’re never quite satisfied,” he added. “But I’d rather be pushing the barrier on everything than sitting back completely 100 per cent satisfied.”
After completing his degree in May 2016, he said the time was right to focus full-time on fighting. “I was reaching a point in my dream career of being a professional athlete that it didn’t make sense to hold off. If I didn’t make that attempt, it would be something I would regret for a long time.”
Katona said he and his girlfriend Katie Saull, a fellow fighter, soon knew it was time to make a move and “step things up.” “Otherwise the game will pass you on. I wanted to be ahead of that curve and be training with (the) best team that I can be.”