After winning The Ultimate Fighter 29 at bantamweight in 2021, Ricky Turcios dropped his first non-TUF bout inside the octagon to Aiemann Zahabi earlier this year. Looking to put that setback behind him, Turcios returned to action at UFC Vegas 65 on Saturday, paired up with Kevin Natividad, who was 0-2 in the promotion to date.
The eccentric Turcios was extremely calm and collected on his walk to the Apex Octagon, one in which he is extremely familiar with.
The fight began with a huge spinning wheel kick from “Pretty” Ricky but Natividad didn’t take long to get the fight to the ground. Some unorthodox hammer fists from the bottom allowed Turcios to reverse the position and pin Natividad against the cage. Natividad attempted to make some adjustments to get the fight back on the feet, and after attempting a guillotine, managed to get the fight back up. Despite that, he then shot for a takedown moments after returning to the feet, and the creativity of Turcios saw him grabbing the leg of Natividad, putting him in an uncomfortable position. The crazy scramble resulted in Turcios once again finishing on top.
Again, “Quicksand” got the fight back to the feet, and momentarily dropped Turcios with a huge elbow. Again, some eccentric scrambling from Turcios saw him reclaim top position on the mat, finishing the round on the back of the 29-year-old.
In the interval between rounds one and two, both fighters opted to utilise their stools in ways other than sitting on them.
Turcios began round two with some more forward pressure, but Natividad landed back-to-back heavy body kicks. Another level change initiation from Turcios saw the fight hit the mat once more, but only momentarily. Natividad landed a takedown of his own shortly after, but the scrambling work from Turcios saw him make it to the cage for some support getting back to his feet. Natividad then rocked Turcios with a huge left hook, which wobbled Turcios, causing him to once again latch onto the single leg. The two then began to trade relentlessly with eachother, both landing some heavy shots. Natividad got Turcios back against the cage and began attempting a high crotch takedown, but a blatant fence grab with just five seconds left allowed Turcios to once again finish the round on the back of Natividad.
This time, both fighters actually sat on their stools in between rounds two and three.
Kevin Natividad had proved to be the more efficient striker of the two, and every strike he threw, came with a lot of power behind it. He then mixed in the wrestling again in round three, but couldn’t keep Turcios down for long, which was the narrative of the whole fight.
Moments after getting back to the feet, Natividad landed a huge jumping knee as Turcios was dipping his head, dropping the TUF winner. Despite Natividad consistently landing takedowns, Turcios’ exemplary grappling allowed him to get to his feet almost every time. Another jump knee would land moments later, only glancing this time.
Turcios once again gained access to Natividad’s back, and this time, he had more time to try and finish the fight. “Pretty” Ricky sunk in a deep rear-naked-choke attempt, but Natividad managed to unhook one of Turcios’ arms, signalling to the ref that he was okay. With five seconds left, Turcios reigned down some heavy ground-and-pound in what was a razor close round and fight as a whole.
Official Result: Ricky Turcios def. Kevin Natividad by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)