Findings from TUF 31: Crew McGregor goes with no win in Episode 5

Jun 27, 2023 5:02pm ET

We are five weeks into the 31st season of The Ultimate Fighter and for the fifth year in a row Michael Chandler’s team has won over Conor McGregor’s team.

Team Chandler’s Brad Katona used his ground play to control Team McGregor’s Carlos Vera to secure a unanimous decision victory in Tuesday’s episode. With the win, Katona advances to the bantamweight semifinals.

Let’s take a look at the biggest moments from Episode 5 and what’s in store for us next week.

Editor’s Note: Matchmaking for this season will be determined by seeding. The coaches ranked their competitors first through fourth in each division. After the seeding list was determined, the matchups were played in a tournament round.

Bantamweight: (2) Brad Katona, Team Chandler vs. (3) Carlos Vera, Team McGregor

And the trainers are there! 🤬

Should fights last three rounds in the future?

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Katona beats Vera by unanimous decision

It was another close fight on the show, the third fight in a row to result in a decision, but Team McGregor’s Vera wasn’t enough as Katona raised her hand at the end.

Katona, who trains at the same gym as McGregor, SBG Ireland, was the 2017 TUF season 27 winner. His last fight was with Brave CF where he was the bantamweight champion. Before joining Brave CF, Katona fought in the UFC from 2018-2019, where he won 2-2. His last two bouts ended in unanimous decision losses to Merab Dvalishvili and Hunter Azure respectively.

During his fight with Vera, Katona showed that he can count on his wrestling when he doesn’t like the fight on his feet. On a team coached by a veteran wrestler like Chandler, Katona could gain the knowledge he needs to make another run and become the first two-time TUF Finals champion.

Storylines to watch

trouble in paradise?

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Based on his actions during the episode, Katona might be the type of fighter that many trainers wouldn’t want to work with. In sports, coaches hate players who feel they deserve special treatment – and that’s exactly what we saw in Episode 5 of Katona.

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Before his fight against Vera, Katona made it clear to Chandler that he has different expectations than his coaching staff for the flow of his fight preparation. While Chandler and his staff planned to watch movies about upcoming opponents outside of practice and take those thoughts to the gym to train the team, Katona wanted to do things differently. He wanted to sit with the coaches, presumably separate from the other film sessions, to watch the film and work out a game plan. He also wanted to train differently than the rest of his team.

“Chandler’s kind of fed up with me at this point,” Katona said. “It’s like, ‘Listen, my life would be so much easier if giant diva Brad didn’t always want to do something special.'”

While Katona is perfectly justified in putting himself first — considering that while it’s a team-based show, only one fighter from each weight class can win in the finals — his approach could have been different. In regular team sports, special treatment of players takes time and effort. It could be even more problematic on a show like The Ultimate Fighter, because the extra focus Katona demands could distract from the attention Chandler and his team still need to give to the other seven fighters on the team.

Obviously, it affected the perception Katona’s teammates had of him.

In addition to the training and film requests, Katona seemed to anger his teammates as he halted their trips from the gym back to the TUF house by chatting with Team McGregor’s coaches.

“I think he’s definitely a diva,” said teammate Roosevelt Roberts. “I feel like he just doesn’t want to be on the team. He wants to be on the other team.”

With Katona claiming another win for Team Chandler this week, things could get exciting as the show progresses. We will see how this situation develops.

The matchup next week

Lee Hammond (right) will fight Team Chandler’s Kurt Holobaugh in Episode 6 of Season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter. ufc

Lightweight: (4) Kurt Holobaugh, Team Chandler vs. (1) Lee Hammond, Team McGregor

Here’s everything we know about these two fighters:

Kurt Holobaugh
Record: 19-7
UFC record: 0-4
Age: 36
Fights from: Denham Springs, Louisiana
• Last fought at Xtreme Fighting Championships
• Made his first UFC appearance in 2013 against Steven Siler
• Fought at Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017
• Second stint in the UFC from 2018 to 2019; fought against Raoni Barcelos, Shane Burgos and Thiago Moises

Lee Hammond
Record: 5:0
UFC Record: N/A
Age: 26
Battles from: Dublin
• Last fought in the Eire Fighting Championship
• A Bellator win over Jamie Hay in 2022
• Trained at SBG Ireland, the same gym as McGregor

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