UFC 192 has come and gone. We saw a great championship bout with Daniel Corimer retaining over a very game Alexander Gustafsson with a tight split decision.
Ryan Bader overcame Rashad Evans and New Zealand boy Dan Hooker get narrowly beaten in a decision against Yair Rodriguez.
However, the real talk that’s been coming out of UFC’s latest Pay Per View has nothing to do with any of these fights.
They’re all talking about 19 year old Sage Northcutt – the young man labelled by critics and couchexperts around the globe as a ‘pretty boy’ who is more looks than substance.
Northcutt proved them all wrong to take his pro MMA record to 6-0 with clinching his first UFC win on his debut.
In his hometown of Houston, TX, he took apart his much more experienced opponent, Francisco Trevino (12-2) in 57 seconds – one of the fastest debuts in UFC history. This win comes just 323 days after his pro MMA debut and also makes him UFCs youngest fighter on the active roster.
The cynics are now his biggest fans. The haters are now singing his praises on the internet. Lets take a look at Sage Northcutt, the man that some are claiming will become the new ‘poster boy’ for UFC.
Sage started as a young child actor and part time model. But in his spare time, he was already doing what many couldn’t. At only 5 years old, his father would make him do 250 sit ups and push ups every day. Now this may seem drastic for such any child, let alone at 5 years old but his father was confident that his son enjoyed the challenge. By age 6, Sage was doing 1000 sit ups a day, pushing himself to the limit.
In 2014, he made his pro MMA debut and now, less than a year later he stands on the UFC roster. He looks like he’s carved from stone, more suited to be on a walk way than in an octagon. He moves well and has some surprising strength. He seems to have a slightly unconventional style of footwork which makes him unpredictable with spin kicks.
He didn’t get a chance to show off much of his ground work which I will be very interested to see. He has 2 wins via submission in his pre-UFC career so he has some form of ground game. He did take Trevino to the ground but it was more of capitalizing on a slip than a takedown.
His pre-fight hype was indeed massive which he managed to live up to-this time. Has he been over hyped? He managed to catch Trevino off guard when Trevino slipped. Certainly the sign of great reflexes but if that match happened again, who’s to say the result would be the same?
57 seconds is far too small of a time frame to judge a fighters calibre. Maybe he got lucky. Who can say for now?
The feeling among a certain core of fans is that he was given this opportunity over other more experienced fighters because of his looks. A fighter that looks good can bring in money – Dana White knows this. Was Sage Northcutt given an opportunity he perhaps hadn’t earned because of how he looks and not how he fights? Were the raging internet masses correct? Is Northcutt the pretty boy that will be given all the opportunities because Dana White likes him?
It certainly didn’t hurt Brock Lesnar – one of the most legitimate athletes to ever step foot in an Octagon. Lesnar was given a Heavyweight title match after only 2 UFC fights – 1 of which he lost. Many say that this was because White liked Lesnar and saw money in him (which was true as Pay Per View buys spiked when Lesnar was on the card). Are we seeing something similar here?
He had an impressive victory in his debut – will we see him pushed higher on the card because Dana White wants a new face for a new age of UFC fans? I highly doubt it.
White is a smart businessman. He knows that no one will pay to see an over hyped flop. Theres a method to all of this for Dana, to take a risk on a young talent and have him develop over time into a fighter that the fans can get behind. We have just seen the start of a long term investment for the UFC.
Where to now for Sage? He’s already said that he wants to get back into the octagon as soon as he can. He has no major injuries from his last fight and has mentioned that he would like to possibly be added to UFC’s upcoming cards with UFC193 in Australia and a UFC Fight Night in South Korea.
Will we see another name added to the already stacked UFC 193 card in Melbourne? Will we be able to look back at the results of that card in 10 years time and say: ‘Wow, Ronda Rousey, Mark Hunt, Antonio Silva, Uriah Hall and Sage Northcutt all on one night?’ Or will Sage be a flash in the pan like so many before him? Only time will tell and I cant wait to watch his journey from here.