Ricky Turcios

UFC on ESPN 30 will act as the stage for the crowning of the Ultimate Fighter Season 29 winner. The season followed two weight classes, but on Saturday the bantamweights will meet in the octagon first in a clash for tournament gold.

Ricky Turcios established himself as a character from the moment he popped on the screen. With genuine love for the martial arts and a fun tone about him, the Filipino Texan quickly became a fan favorite. He proved himself as exciting a fighter as any, willing to bite down on the mouthguard and swing, before celebrating his signature Hadouken in victory.

Brady Hiestand jumped into competition in dramatic fashion, defeating friend and former training partner Josh Rettinghouse. Proving himself a well-rounded up and comer, Hiestand then went on to dominate another tournament favorite in Vince Murdock to secure his spot on the finale.

Turcios vs. Hiestand betting odds

Turcios will enter the bout the favorite at -165 over his TUF teammate.

  • Ricky Turcios: – 165
  • Brady Hiestand: +135

Turcios vs. Hiestand Breakdown

Brady Hiestand has demonstrated the skill and determination to be one of the UFC’s most interesting prospects. The young talent can hold his own standing but his true strength is in his wrestling. Many of his striking weapons lead to this, most notably his boxing and front round kick. Hiestand will do a slight hop step to land off the front leg, keeping his opponents at bay and pressuring towards the fence where he can time the double leg.

He is a great reactionary wrestler, which is why he is both extremely technical and quick. On top, his biggest strength is controlling the lower body of his opponents, even standing over his opponents his grip control on the ankles allows him to pass safely to half guard smoothly, and he maintains his control on the legs so as to not allow his opponents to hip escape. Side control and knee on belly are particularly strong areas for Hiestand, where he controls and can land brutal ground and pound.

Relatively still young in his career, Hiestand does seem to gas out late in some fights, his style is reactionary and comfortable to him but it also requires consistent strength. He can wrestle without much thought so he does still have success late, but he may also walk into dangerous positions or strikes when he is in an area less familiar.

This is where Turcois has his best shot. With mainly a background in Muay Thai, Ricky Turcois is a good striker but also overall well-rounded. His movement may seem awkward, but it is also creative. Early on, you will often see him through flurries which may mostly miss but end with a powerful kick, the best being a whipping leg kick he likes.

The point in a fight at which fighters typically get fatigued and begin leaning on their bread and butter fundamentals is where Turcois actually finds his most enjoyment. With a genuine love for the chaos, he maintains a level of creativity in the grueling moments of fights rarely seen. If he can get his opponents back to the fence, he likes to throw hard straight punches and build up combinations, but he will mix this up with stinging roundhouse kicks from both sides and even the occasional spin kick.

While he may not be the most technical grappler, he is constantly moving and threatening in odd scrambles. Don’t be surprised if he looks for a leg in an awkward position and uses it to change the momentum of the ground sequences. From guard, his long limbs allow for catch butterfly hooks even against the fence in positions other fighters would feel too closed off.

Turcios vs. Hiestand prediction

I would not be surprised to see Hiestand come on strong early, with crisp striking and superior wrestling. However as the fight goes on, I think Turcios’ strengths grow. Particularly because Hiestand fights on instinct once he fatigues, I see Turcios finding something surprising and getting through whether it’s a strike or a submission in a scramble. He was able to demonstrate the ability to dig deep and outgun his opponents late, in the show format which only requires two to three rounds.

Prediction: Ricky Turcios TKO – Round 3

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