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TUF 31 results video, full Ep. 5 recap | McGregor vs. Chandler

Can Carlos Vera defeat bantamweight veteran Brad Katona and (finally) get Team McGregor into the win column?


Season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) was back on the air earlier tonight (Tues., June 27, 2023) on ESPN for Ep. 5 of the long-running combat sports reality show, featuring head coaches Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler leading respective squads of lightweight and bantamweight contestants. Remember, immediate replays of TUF 31 are available on ESPN+ (sign up here) immediately after each episode, or you can save yourself an hour and just read our complete recap below.

Missed last week’s episode? No problem! Get full results and recap videos right here.

We kick things off at the TUF house and Coach McGregor shows up with his trainers to put his team through “McGregor FAST” exercises which is an excuse to market his workout App. If you’re wondering, a FAST subscription costs $20/month for “Silver” access and $95/month for “Gold” membership. I guess this program is called FAST because you will go broke FAST. Hey coach, your team is down 0-4, not sure a late-night conditioning circuit is the best way to motivate your fighters considering they were already at the gym all day.

So this week’s drama is centered around bantamweight Brad Katona, because “Superman” trains with McGregor at SBG Ireland back home but is currently stuck with the rest of the veterans on Team Chandler. For those of you with short-term memories, Katona won TUF 27 back in summer 2018 but went on to lose two of three inside the Octagon, both by decision (and one to top contender Merab Dvalishvili). Some of the other members of Team Chandler are fed up with his “diva” behavior. Katona seems to be more focused on watching tape than doing drills and reminds the cameras he’s a “great fighter.”

We get a little backstory on Carlos Vera and it turns out the Ecuadorian import turns 36 in just a few months, so this may be a “now or never” opportunity for “Pequeno.” Prior to joining TUF 31, Vera won four straight fights for Fury Fighting Championship, two by way of submission. His biggest strength is the ground game and only one of his 12 wins has ended by way of knockout. Coach John Kavanagh won’t be coaching Vera because he trains Katona back in Ireland so the bulk of the training falls on assistant coach Owen Roddy. Coach McGregor also pops in from time-to-time to add his two cents.

Both fighters make weight without incident. Fight is starting early so expect a decision and maybe even a third “sudden victory” round. Coach McGregor pacing from afar in his fancy suit. Coach Chandler confidently expects a “very sound” performance from Katona.

Let’s see if he’s right.

135 lbs.: Carlos Vera (Team McGregor) vs. Brad Katona (Team Chandler)

Round 1: No touch of gloves and both fighters bobbing and weaving as they feel each other out. Vera strikes first with a pair of kicks. Coach McGregor starts singing in Gaelic. Katona rushes Vera and drives him to the cage. They battle for position. Vera warned for elbows to the head. Katona working overtime to get this fight to the floor and finally drags Vera down. Vera rolls and gets back to his feet but Katona is riding him. Some more work and Vera is back to the floor. Katona jumps into guard and eats a few shots on the way down. Mac screaming for the standup and the referee ignores him. Vera busy from the bottom and draws another warning for blows to the back of the head. Another complaint of inactivity from Mac. Vera is able to work his way up and Katona takes his back. Vera blasts his way out and they exchange leg locks. 10 seconds left and they get back to their feet. Vera looking to land but can’t close the distance. I have it 10-9 Katona on control.

Round 2: Katona opens fire with a kick and Vera answers. Katona running in with punches then shoots and drags Vera down. Katona takes the back similar to the end of Round 1. Nice body triangle by Katona. Vera fighting to protect his neck. Vera hulks up and powers out and now he’s on top. Vera loses his mouthpiece and the referee stops the fight. Vera puts it back in and they resume with Vera in control. He works a little too loosely and Katona gets back to his feet. A few mild punches and Katona is right back to the wrestling and Vera is unable to defend. Katona camping out in guard and catching his breath. Katona trying to step over but gets denied. Vera busy from bottom with elbows. Coach Chandler wants elbows from Katona but doesn’t get them. A frustrated Coach McGregor wants Vera to break free but time expires before he can make something happen. This was similar to Round 1 in my book and have it 10-9 Katona. So do the judges. McGregor is pissed and keeps yelling at the judges to make it three rounds. UFC President Dana White was underwhelmed by both fighters.

Result: Katona def. Vera by decision

Here’s where we stand after Episode 5:

Team McGregor:

135 lbs.: Mando Gutierrez (No. 1)
135 lbs.: Trevor Wells (No. 2)
135 lbs.: Carlos Vera (No. 3)
135 lbs.: Rico DiSciullo (No. 4)

155 lbs.: Lee Hammond (No. 1)
155 lbs.: Nate Jennerman (No. 2)
155 lbs.: Aaron McKenzie (No. 3)
155 lbs.: Landon Quinones Stewart (No. 4)

Team Chandler:

135 lbs.: Hunter Azure (No. 1)
135 lbs.: Brad Katona (No. 2)
135 lbs.: Timur Valiev (No. 3)
135 lbs.: Cody Gibson (No. 4)

155 lbs.: Jason Knight (No. 1)
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard (No. 2)
155 lbs.: Roosevelt Roberts (No. 3)
155 lbs.: Kurt Holobaugh (No. 4)

Coach Chandler and his team of UFC veterans are up five fights to zero.

Here are the remaining elimination fights:

155 lbs.: Lee Hammond (No. 1) vs. Kurt Holobaugh (No. 4)
155 lbs.: Jason Knight (No. 1) vs. Landon Quinones Stewart (No. 4)
135 lbs.: Rico DiSciullo (No. 4) vs. Hunter Azure (No. 1)

See you next week for Lee Hammond vs. Kurt Holobaugh and the rest of Episode 6!

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