Brad Katona wanted to be active in 2021 and that is exactly what is happening.
Katona (9-2), the 29-year-old from Winnipeg, Man., didn’t fight at all in 2020 after being released from the UFC and the pandemic canceling one of his fights. Yet, on April 1, he made his BRAVE CF debut and submitted Borislav Nikolic and after the win, he wanted a quick turnaround. He got his wish as he’ll face Bair Shtepin (9-4) in a bantamweight bout at BRAVE CF 53 on Saturday.
“I always plan for three fights a year and I’m on track to do that. I would’ve liked to be a couple of weeks earlier, but I can’t complain,” Katona said to MMA Empire.
“When I’m active and fighting three times a year, I think I’m at my best, so this is a perfect pace for me. Then, coming off a year of no fights, I’m just excited for the opportunity to compete again.”
If Katona gets his hand raised on Saturday, he says he plans to call for a title shot as he wants to prove he’s the best bantamweight alive.
“I hope this performance gets me a title shot. I’m world-class and it’s about time I have a world title. Getting that BRAVE world title is the next step and what I deserve,” Katona said.
Despite the fact Katona has only competed once in BRAVE, he says Shtepin was on his radar. They competed on the same card in April and the Canadian was impressed with his performance.
“He has fought some good guys, I know a decent amount about him,” Katona said.
“We fought on the same card at BRAVE 50 and he lost a decision, but to me, he was the better fighter in there. He’s dangerous, he has wrestling, spinning attacks, quick on his feet. This is someone I have to be sharp and focused for all 15 minutes.”
Against Shetpin, Katona knows his wrestling will be a difference-maker in the fight. However, the 29-year-old knows he is well-rounded and says he has only improved over the past couple of months at SBG Ireland.
Although Katona knows he will use his wrestling in the fight, he says dictating where the fight takes place is what will get him his hand raised.
“I can’t just rely on taking him down. But, for me, he is very good when he gets in a groove and has momentum. I have to put my game on him right away, whether it’s striking or wrestling, and not let him get going,” Katona explained.
“Like any fight, I’ll go where the fight goes and I’m ready for whatever happens here.”