A lot has changed for Kevin Natividad since suffering a loss in his octagon debut last October.
Besides cutting off his signature ponytail, Natividad is seeing a sports psychologist. He decided to work on his mentality following a third-round TKO loss to Miles Johns at UFC Fight Night 181.
He feels more confident heading into his second octagon appearance, meeting fellow bantamweight Danaa Betgerel at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday, April 24.
“I realized I was thinking about the outcome so much in my last fight that I wasn’t present here,” Natividad said. “For one thing, I feel a lot more confident because I know the guys I train with are good.”
Kevin Natividad, splitting time at Arizona Combat Sports and Fight Ready MMA
Natividad only sparred with three different fighters before his last fight, including his younger brother, Christian Natividad. The 28-year-old kept his circle small as a COVID-19 precaution.
The Hawaiian is now splitting his time between his homebase at Arizona Combat Sports and Fight Ready MMA. He is not only sparring with more people, but with the likes of fellow UFC bantamweight Hunter Azure and Bellator bantamweight Henry Corrales.
“Everything felt restricted, that it just didn’t feel the same,” Natividad said. “It’s just been nice having different training partners at a higher level.”
Natividad questioned himself about if he was good enough to compete inside the octagon following his last defeat. His head coach Trevor Lally suggested seeking professional counseling.
Not all of the sessions are positive, but Natividad said he is more confident moving ahead. With a new look, new training partners and a new mentality, Natividad is eager to get back in there.
“There’s always redemption periods and times where you can grow. I just feel like I wasn’t going to,” Natividad said. “I am feeling great. I’m excited and I can’t wait to get in there already. I’m taking it one day at a time.”