Moments after the final bell rang, Winnipeg’s Brad Katona stepped into the record books.
Last Friday in Nevada Katona made history as the first Canadian to win a regular season of the reality television series, The Ultimate Fighter. In the 27th season finale Katona defeated Jay Cucciniello in a three round unanimous decision to earn a six-figure contract with the UFC.
“Just to have that little piece of history,” Katona said. “Especially for Canada, that was huge.”
Katona, 26, is certainly not your typical fighter. After attending Dakota Collegiate, Katona earned his bachelors degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Manitoba. But he’s always loved the martial arts, ever since choosing it over hockey at a very young age.
“My brother and I, we were big fans of the Power Rangers, so it was an obvious choice,” he said. “Power Rangers didn’t play hockey, we’re going into karate.”
10 years later Katona joined the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts and stayed with them until he was invited to Dublin, Ireland last year to train alongside Conor McGregor at one of the top gyms in the sport.
Despite his new found fame Katona hasn’t forgotten his roots, giving a worldwide shout out to WAMMA in the octagon immediately following the match.
“Honestly Curtis Brigham from the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martials Arts. He started me on this journey,” Katona said in the post fight interview. “He was the one – my life could have taken a different path.”
He echoed those sentiments upon his return to Winnipeg this week.
“If I walked into any other gym, any other gym in the world, I might not have had the same positive experience,” Katona said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without WAMMA, and more importantly Curtis.”
“When Brad walked into my gym at 14 he was tiny and chubby cheeked and focused,” said WAMMA owner and head coach Curtis Brigham. “He’s the total package, the athlete and the scholar and the gentleman.”
Katona was the the third athlete from WAMMA to compete on The Ultimate Fighter and while he doesn’t yet have an opponent, Katona is hoping to fight on the Toronto UFC card in December.
“It’s not good enough just to get here, and okay all the hard work is done and I achieved it,” Katona said. “No I want to be world champion.”
WATCH: RAW Brad Katona Interview