Sage Northcutt could have signed anywhere. He had an offer to stay with the UFC and face a Top-10 ranked opponent, and he had other options as well. Despite being a wanted man, the 23-year-old from Texas chose to sign with the Singapore-based ONE Championship in early 2019.
He’s now set to debut opposite kickboxing specialist Cosmo Alexandre at ONE: Enter the Dragon in Singapore on May 17.
Northcutt talked a lot about what initially drew him to ONE Championship, and what the major influence was that led to him signing with the organization in a recent interview with Forbes.
“The UFC wanted me back,” Northcutt said. “They offered me a fight with a Top-10 opponent in Demian Maia. So, it says a lot to me about how they view my talent if they felt I was ready for someone like that. Then, I came to Singapore and met with Mr. Chatri [Sityodtong], and I got to attend a live event. Watching how ONE puts on an event was just really impressive.”
In using one word to describe the differences between ONE and other promotions, Northcutt said: “entertainment.”
Clearly, he was impressed with the ONE’s presentational elements. He talked about everything from the cage walk, to the gold confetti after title bouts. Also high on Northcutt’s list of things that drew him to ONE were plans for expansion into the United States.
The potential for ONE’s first North American card is something that is exciting not just for Northcutt, but for all fans of mixed martial arts who are open to a new brand of the sport.
Throughout his 13-bout career thus far, Sage Northcutt has established himself as an athletic and tough competitor. This is contrary to what some American fans originally thought before getting an opportunity to watch him perform.
Most would agree, he’s just beginning to show what he’s capable of in the cage. As he mentioned in the interview with Forbes, during his first few bouts, he was in college and it was difficult for him to balance his studies and to train to improve in the cage.
Now that he has postponed the pursuance of his degree, he is able to focus solely on mixed martial arts, and he believes that has already resulted in a more well-rounded game.
Sage Northcutt lands with ONE riding a three-bout win streak and eyeing a potential title opportunity in the organization’s welterweight division. Currently, Zebaztian Kadestam is the champion after he defeated Tyler McGuire the vacated strap late in 2018. Kadestam successfully defended his World Title against tough Kazakh Georgiy Kichigin just last March 8th in Yangon, Myanmar.
Northcutt is probably two or three bouts away from being in a position to challenge for a title. However, it’s realistic to consider Northcutt a serious threat to whoever has the title once he puts a few ONE Championship bouts under his belt.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/10/2019.