Six months after making his long awaited debut in the UFC, Hawaii’s Kevin Natividad will make his return to the octagon on the undercard of UFC 261 this Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida against bantamweight Danaa Batgarel.
The Ewa Beach native, who lost to Miles John via third round knockout in October is looking forward to a much louder experience this time around as this weekend’s fight will be held at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena before a crowd, unlike his previous experience with no fans in attendance at the UFC’s Apex as part of the Fight Night 181 card in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“It’s a big change for me at least, just because when we were fighting without the crowd and everything, it was my corner and my opponent’s corner and that was just it. It felt like a glorified sparring match, which I was down for and everything but I think the difference with the crowd is just the fact that all these people don’t know me, and don’t know me yet. I get to show off in front of them and let them remember who I am,” Natividad told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “Hearing the crowd and the energy and everybody yelling, good things or bad things, it just gives me energy either way. If it’s good things it hypes me up, if it’s bad things it hypes me up even more.”
Saturday’s bout will also provide an opportunity for Natividad to showcase what he has been working on through a 10 week camp that focused on improving both physically and mentally. One of the aspects of his outside of the cage training dealt with overcoming the anxiety that he felt for his debut fight.
“My last fight there was so many nerves and everything that I went through. A lot of anxiety and even though I felt calm in the back room of the last one, going out there I wasn’t completely there. When I went out there and my coach says this, I fought at like 30-percent of my capabilities and I want to show more of what I can do.”
Natividad explained that embracing the anxiety has helped him work through it, describing that fight week last time out was like navigating with his hands covering his eyes, but this time out he can see through opened hands.
“I’m learning how to still be able to go towards my goals and my values with that there, because for me to avoid anxiety, for someone to do that is like trying to tell you don’t think of a pink elephant. That’s the first thing you think of, you know?”
Natividad enters the bout at 9-2 in his career, while Batgerel is 8-2. The bantamweight showdown is scheduled to be the featured bout on the early prelims which is slated to start at 12:00pm HST on ESPN2.