UFC Vegas 9: Kevin Natividad Would Have Fought Tony Ferguson if it Meant Entry into UFC

Welcome to the UFC, Kevin Natividad.

At UFC Vegas 9, Natividad (9-1) steps up on just a couple of day’s notice to take on the gritty Brian Kelleher. “Quicksand” is an LFA veteran, who had expected to fight his way into the UFC via Dana White’s Contender Series. Instead, he’s making the jump straight to the big show on Saturday night.

“Since I got the phone call, it’s been a little overwhelming in a good way,” Natividad told Cageside Press during this week’s UFC Vegas 9 media day. “I’m kind of just eating it all up. But we were struggling to get all the medicals in and everything I need to do. Other than that, flying to Vegas, this is actually my first time here. It’s been great. I’m just excited.”

Hawaii’s Natividad, who trains in Arizona, admitted that with the coronavirus restrictions, his first trip to the “Ninth Island” is a little anticlimactic. It’s doubtful his debut will be, however. With a main card spot against a fighter Natividad admits he has watched over the years, it will no doubt be memorable.

“I used to watch [Brian Kelleher] before. The first fight I remember is when he fought Renan Barao, one of my favorite fighters from way back when,” recalled Natividad. “Now, me realizing I’m about to fight these guys, it’s crazy. It’s a dream come true almost.”

Almost, but not quite. Natividad explained that “it’s just the start for me. When I told everybody I wanted to get to the UFC, I told everyone I wanted to take my time, take the fights one at a time, and once we get in, we’re just going to come and take over.” Step one comes Saturday.

He also knows that if Kelleher can do it, he can do it too. “Boom” got his own start in the UFC by taking a short-notice fight against Iuri Alcantara. Now, Natividad feels that it’s his turn.

“Absolutely. Especially doing this sport and everything, aiming to get to the UFC, if you don’t think you can beat anybody, anytime, why are you trying to get there?” he observed. “I normally fight at 135, and I’m going up to 145 for this one. I know he’s a bantamweight too. But if it was Brian Kelleher, or even like Tony Ferguson, anybody, I would have took the fight if they offered it to me.”

Growing up in Hawaii, Natividad plenty of local heroes like BJ Penn and his brothers, and Ronald Jhun, who fought at UFC 49 in 2004, and later in Strikeforce. Natividad actually trained with the latter.

And then there’s Max Holloway. “Seeing him get to the UFC, I remember when he fought Dustin Poieir, it was like, if you work hard for it, you can definitely get there.”

Natividad has worked hard, and now he’s here. The next step awaits.

Watch the full UFC Vegas 9 media day press scrum with Kevin Natividad above. The event takes place this Saturday, September 5 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV, airing live on ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).