Former UFC Fighter Sage Northcutt Flatlined at ONE Championship 96: Enter the Dragon
By: Jesse Donathan
Former UFC prospect “Super” Sage Northcutt was knocked out cold in his ONE Championship debut Friday, May 17th, 2019 against Cosmo Alexandre. A fighter who started his career in the UFC’s 155-pound lightweight division in 2015, Northcutt finished his tenure with the world’s premiere mixed martial arts promotion at 170 pounds in the UFC’s welterweight division. Northcutt competed against Alexander in ONE Championships welterweight division, which according to the promotion’s website is contested at 77.2 kilograms to 83.9 kilograms.
Dusting off the trusty calculator, that’s 170.226 pounds to 184.9995 when using a rounded up 2.205 pounds to 1-kilogram calculation. Let that information sink in for a moment; ONE Championship’s welterweight division is not the same welterweight division mixed martial arts fans are accustomed to dealing with in the UFC. According to MMAFighting.com’s Guilherme Cruz, the bout between Sage Northcutt and Cosmo Alexandre was contested at 185 pounds.
“Take one glance at Sage Northcutt’s record and an obvious trend jumps out about his UFC run,” writes MMAfighting.com’s Shaun Al-Shatti in his July 13, 2018 article titled, “After ‘constantly under-eating’ and fighting ‘cloudy’ at 155, Sage Northcutt begins new welterweight journey at UFC Boise.” According to Al-Shatti, “Over the course of three years in the promotion, the exceedingly polite Texan has racked a perfect 5-0 fighting at lightweight, but a less-than-stellar 0-2 resume competing at 170 pounds.”
With Northcutt fairing worse during his run in the UFC’s 170-pound welterweight division than his tenure at lightweight, one might wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea for Northcutt to compete at 185-pounds?
According to a May 17, 2019 social media posting from MMA analyst Luke Thomas, “Some are arguing there’s a size discrepancy. I have no idea if that’s true because there’s virtually no transparency in ONE’s weigh-in system.”
So here is what we do know, according to the promotion’s website onefc.com, “ONE Championship’s weight classes are unlike any other martial arts organization in the world.”
A fact any potential fighters looking to sign with ONE Championship need to fully understand before signing on the dotted line. According to ONE Championship, “The new program, which is the first of its kind for combat sports, is focused on athlete safety by introducing “walking-weight” competition via multiple weigh-ins and tests before and during fight week, including three hours before an event begins.”
According to a July 31, 2014 bleacherreport.com article titled, “The Beaten Path: Cosmo Alexandre Moves Away from Blackzilians, Up to 170 Pounds,” author Scott Harris writes, “Alexandre said he walks around at about 180, so a cut to 170 instead of 155 makes sense.” And Northcutt’s walking-weight? According to a June 24, 2018 mymmanews.com article titled, “Sage Northcutt Explains Decision to Return to Welterweight,” Northcutt walks around at 185-190.
As far as height is concerned, Northcutt is listed at an even 6-feet and Alexandre at 6’2”. The idea that there was a significant size discrepancy doesn’t seem to hold up to analysis once the numbers begin to be put into perspective. Though it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume both Northcutt and Alexandre have put on weight since these numbers were initially reported. So, what went wrong for Northcutt?
According to the bleacherreport.com, Alexandre is a, “Muay Thai Miyagi, with multiple world titles and 19 knockouts on his 42-14 resume.” According to Harris, Alexandre has trained among some of the best in the business, including a tenure with the well-known Blackzillians in Florida, a training camp which has counted the likes of former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, the titan Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Alistair Overeem and others among its ranks.
So, it should come to nobody as a surprise that Sage Northcutt, at just 23 years old, with an 11-3 mixed martial arts record against mid-tier competition at best in the UFC was knocked unconscious by the veteran professional fighter. Though Alexandre himself only has an 8-1 professional mixed martial arts record, he is the vastly more experienced fighter and the outcome was not unforeseeable to those who looked at page two of the fighter scouting report.
On May 18, 2019 ESPN MMA analyst Ariel Helwani reported on Twitter that, “Sage Northcutt just posted on IG that he came out of a nine-hour surgery. Suffered 8 fractures in his face as a result of that KO loss yesterday.”
Sage Northcutt was fed to the lions in short, the young mixed martial arts prospect faced the toughest opponent of his career thus far and he got knocked unconscious as a result. In a sport where there are generally only two outcomes, victory or defeat, one must be prepared for the even worst. Unfortunately for Northcutt, having his face fractured is an outcome that must be taken into consideration before entering the arena and these kinds of losses only serve as learning tools for the future. The good news is Northcutt can learn a lot from this fight and go back to the drawing board in learning how to deal with fighters walking him down, looking for the one-shot kill, sniper like finish.
With ONE Championship redefining todays conventional weight class system, we can fully expect more big-name fighters to fall in ONE Championship as the new, unconventional weight classes all but guarantee more interesting matchup’s and defeats in the future. A fact exemplified by former UFC 155-pound lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez getting starched in his ONE Championship debut as well.
According to an April 2, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Eddie Alvarez: Timofey Nastyukhin’s punch ‘instantly blinded me and split both eyelids in half’,” author Zane Simon writes that within minutes of Alvarez’s debut in the promotion he, “was being picked up off the canvas, having been handed one of the worst losses of his career, against the relatively unheralded Russian, Timofey Nastyukhin.”
ONE Championship is in the business of promotion, and as such any high-profile signings to the Singapore based promotion can expect the company to make the most of their investment. ONE Championship is proving they are here to give the fans what they want, and god bless them, that is exactly what they are doing. In a market dominated by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the worlds premiere mixed martial arts organization, its going to take something special to compete and thus far it looks like ONE Championship is here to win.