Things seem all too familiar for Ricky Turcios as he steps into another fight at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
As he walks through the halls, he says it feels like home. The smells roaming through the walls of the APEX and the Performance Institute bring Turcios back to his time on season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter. It brings back the best memories.
“It brings me great joy because I know what I've gone through,” Turcios said. “Then I think about this moment, and what I have had to overcome to be here at this point. I know that this is the best version I've ever been. Every time I come back, it's a new fight, new day, let's go.”
The 29-year-old steps into his bantamweight bout with Kevin Natividad aiming to bounce back from a unanimous decision loss to Aiemann Zahabi in July.
Turcios’ down-to-earth charisma is always on full display both inside and outside the Octagon, and it’s something that stuck with fans after his time on TUF. He is always focused on evolving to the best version of himself yet, trusting everything that comes along in the process. He hasn’t lost back-to-back fights in his professional career and has no plan of breaking that streak this weekend.
The motivation behind wanting a win this weekend is simple.
“My motivation is to come back a better version of myself, that’s it,” Turcios said. “Trusting the process and believing in the process, enjoying the process. How am I going to challenge myself to come back with new tricks and outdo myself from my previous times, from my last six months ago, from a year ago instead of two years ago? As long as I'm getting better, then I'm happy right there, and I know for a fact I'm better.”
The main improvements for this camp included skills to become a more complete fighter, which had Turcios focusing on his striking, grappling, strength and conditioning, and bringing new tricks to the table. He believes the path to success this weekend is to ‘fight his fight’.
And what exactly does a Ricky Turcios fight look like?
“Do what I do, fight a smart fight, everything like that,” Turcios said. “Punch, kick, grapple, go with the pressure, things like that.”
Turcios’ opponent, Natividad, is entering his third UFC fight still searching for that first UFC win after falling to Miles Johns and Danaa Batgerel. Natividad’s record stands at 9-3, with five wins by knockout and one by submission. Turcios understands that you have some level of talent if you make it into the UFC, so he isn’t underestimating his opponent by any means, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t solely focused on himself and what his game plan should be.
“I always just focus on myself,” Turcios said. “I know that the opponent is in the UFC, so they're always going to be tough. I'll watch my tape study and stuff like that, but I’m always thinking they’re going to come in here hungry and ready to fight. I’ll just keep my defenses up, be ready to attack, be ready to go all three rounds, just do me and do my moves.”
With experience on season one of Dana White’s Contender Series, TUF 29 and two UFC fights, Turcios feels that his advantage lies with the experience he has within the walls of the Octagon. Natividad has only had two UFC appearances and it’s no secret that Turcios embraces being able to fight inside the APEX.
Come Saturday night, he’d be happy with the obvious - a victory - in addition to a bonus check, as well.
“My prediction is my hand raised by any means necessary. I could do whatever. I could knock them out. I could submit them. I could win a decision, an all-out war. That's what I do.”