Filipino-Salvadoran Ricky Turcios has won The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) bantamweight tournament after a split decision over Brady Hiestand in UFC Fight Night-–“Barboza vs. Chikadze” at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada last Aug. 29, 2021 (PH time).
Turcios, whose mother is Filipina, got the nod of two of the three judges with scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 for the split decision win.
Both fighters came out aggressively in the opening round with a good exchange. Hiestand was able to take down Turcios to the canvas, but the latter was very comfortable on his back by striking from below.
It was a back-and-forth battle in the second round with both fighters taking each other down. Turcios attempted a guillotine choke, but Hiestand was able to break free from it.
In the third round, Turcios kept the pressure on and landed a right straight that knocked Hiestand down. Hiestand, however, was able to regain his senses after taking the fight to the canvas.
Both fighters went for broke in the final moments of the fight and had a good exchange of punches.
With the win, Turcios earned a fight contract in the UFC. He improved to 11-2, while Hiestand dropped to 5-2.
The 28-year-old Turcios, born and raised in Houston, Texas, was teammates with Hiestand in Team Volkanovski, mentored by UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski.
Turcios, always brimming with energy, beat Daniel Argueta in the quarterfinals and then walked through Liudvik Sholinian by unanimous decision in the semifinals.
Turcios is always proud of his Filipino and Salvadoran roots by bringing a combined Philippines and El Salvador flag in his fights. (EKA)