Over the last few months, ONE Championship has signed some truly elite talent in Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Sage Northcutt and Vitor Belfort. Two of those fighters made their ONE Championship debuts at the recent ONE: A New Era card in Tokyo — and with very different results.
Eddie Alvarez debuted first, and was knocked out by Russian juggernaut Timofey Nastyukhin in a jaw-dropping upset. Demetrious Johnson debuted next, submitting a game Yuya Wakamatsu in the second round.
Sage Northcutt, who is set to make his ONE Championship debut opposite kickboxing ace Cosmo Alexandre at ONE: Enter the Dragon in Singapore, was watching his fellow UFC veterans make their debuts in Tokyo.
He opened up on what he saw in a recent interview with BJPENN.com, starting with Eddie Alvarez.
“Sometimes people you’ve never even heard of, they have a lot of talent,” he said. “So the guy that Eddie Alvarez fought obviously had a lot of talent. I saw the giant slice on Eddie Alvarez’s eye — he had his eye split in half — that was pretty bad. I can’t even imagine that, that’s got to hurt. He had to get stitches. I’m sure Eddie was in a lot of pain. I’ve always heard ONE Championship has great strikers, and you can see that.”
Next, Sage Northcutt discussed Demetrious Johnson’s ONE Championship debut:
“I remember him taking his opponent down, and his opponent getting back up real quick, and blocking some shots,” Northcutt said. “He was a very talented opponent. I think that ONE Championship has the most champions out of any fight league, and they have so much talent over there that they have a wide variety of guys to fight. There are guys that you maybe haven’t heard the name of, like the guy that Demetrious fought, but they have a lot of talent.”
Having watched Alvarez lose to Nastyukhin, and Demetrious Johnson battle a tough test in Wakamatsu, Northcutt is fired up for his own ONE Championship debut.
“I’m always super motivated,” he said. “I’m always motivated to the max. I want to go out there and win, and do my best and work the hardest. I believe I’ll be ready.”
As Sage Northcutt gears up for his ONE debut, former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort is also preparing to make his — though he doesn’t yet have an opponent.
Whenever Belfort takes his first steps into the ONE cage, Northcutt expects excitement to follow.
“Oh, I think it’s going to be cool,” he said of Belfort’s first ONE fight. “We know Vitor Belfort has always had great striking. I think him going up against guys that also have great striking over there in that organization, it’s going to be awesome. There are going to be some exciting fights with him.”
By signing stars like Alvarez, Johnson, Northcutt and Belfort, ONE Championship is showing all the signs of a promotion on the rise. Northcutt says he’s excited to have joined the promotion at such an exciting time.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of guys and a lot of girls that are going to want to come over to ONE Championship and be a part of this organization. After seeing Eddie Alvarez fight, Demetrious Johnson fight, I’m going to fight, Vitor Belfort’s going to fight… a lot of people are going to want to come over here. Especially having Miesha Tate and the other people who are running the company. I think it’s just going to be great.
“ONE Championship is just going to keep growing,” he concluded. “They’re going to keep growing so fast.”
Catch Sage Northcutt back in action at ONE: Enter the Dragon on May 17 in Singapore.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/8/2019.