Is Sage Northcutt UFC’s Next Poster Boy?

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.

By Cameron Corban

Biggest Rematch in Heavyweight History

Imagine every cliché when you hear the term ‘heavyweight fight.’

You picture two massive individuals, each built like a Soviet tank punching each other in the face until eventually one of them falls.

No fancy ground work, no contorted submission holds, just two behemoths smacking the crap out of each other to prove which one of them is the best to the thunderous ovation of a sell-out crowd.

It sounds like something out of a movie, does it not? Something that could only be contrived by the mind of a screen writer for dramatic effect; a clash of two gods among men throwing punches that would shatter bones of a common mortal man.

In 2013, on December 7th the world witnessed the real deal when ‘The Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt took on ‘Bigfoot’ Antonio Silva at UFC Fight Night 33.

They stepped inside the Octagon and proceeded to have what many consider to be the greatest heavyweight clash in history.

Both of these men, capable of finishing a fight with a single punch, were giving everything they could, putting every inch of their being in each punch landed on each other.

Yet it wasn’t enough to put the other away.

Silva took Round 1 with a beautifully timed hard right hand that would of finished anyone else.

Mark Hunts legendary iron jaw came into full effect and he shook it off and came right back at Antonio, foiling Silvas attempts to take it to the ground.

Silva also claimed the 2nd round on points while he systematically picked apart Hunts lead leg with some brutal kicks, trying to take Hunts kickboxing experience out of the game.

Mark Hunt took all Silva gave and came back looking for more.

Round 3 was the turning point when Hunt managed to knock Silva to the floor. The Super Samoan then proceeded to stalk Antonio and won the round with a ferocious barrage of short elbows and punches that would crack steel beams.

Silva endured and we went to Round 4.

The 4th round was where business REALLY picked up. It was bell-to-bell excitement with shots being thrown like two rhinos charging at each other.

Hunt seemed to be gaining the momentum until he slipped up on the canvas during one brutal exchange and was mounted by Silva, eating shot after shot.

For a brief second it seemed like Antonio was going to win via TKO but the ‘Super’ mentality of Mark Hunt kicked in and he did enough to survive to the final round.

Round 5 belonged to Mark Hunt as he dominated Silva, feeding off the crowd as Brisbane collectively rose to its feet in thunderous applause as these two legends battled it out, trading punch for punch in a display of freakish stamina unseen in the Heavyweight division.

As blood streamed from both gladiators, the final bell rang and for probably the first time ever, the crowd prayed that the judges would score this as a draw.

Both men were spent, having willed themselves to be the last man standing. Neither deserved to lose, both were winners that night and that’s how the judges saw it too.

It was a majority draw (leaning to Mark Hunts favour) and thus was the end to the greatest match in UFC’s Heavyweight division.

At UFC 193, it happens all over again.

Once again, Australia becomes the battleground for these two warriors.

After failing a post-fight testosterone test, Antonio Silva had his draw switched to a loss and will be looking to avenge that in a big way.

He’s already stated to media that he aims to finish this fight early with a KO-a big statement. With this fight set to go 3 rounds instead of 5, both men can look to adopt a faster pace.

Mark Hunt recently appeared on Submission Radio and doesn’t think it will go the distance this time.

“First round by knockout. First round”, the Super Samoan stated when asked about this rematch.

With confidence from both parties brimming, you can be sure that both men will be bringing their A-game for this colossal fight.

November 15th, 2015. At UFC 193, the greatest heavyweight fight in history happens again.

By Cameron Corban

The Fight for Down Under – UFC 193

Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am for MMA.

I have watched the sport grow from its image as ‘brutal cage fighting’ into arguably one of the most popular sports in the world today.

I have seen champions rise and fall and I have seen legends cemented in history.

For years in New Zealand, MMA was very similar to Professional Wrestling in the early 90’s. People enjoyed watching it but weren’t open fans of the sport out of fear that they would be thrown in with the stereotypes that surrounded it.

For a long time it was – and to a minority of people today, still is – a blood sport, something that modern society shrunk away from, feeling that the brutality of it went against the progressive nature of the world around them.

Then in the mid 2000’s, the popularity of the sport took off in America (thanks to UFC 52 and its record Pay Per View buys) and like many things, it began to influence how people in New Zealand felt towards the sport.

In what seemed like a nearly overnight process, stores across New Zealand were suddenly churning out TapOut gear (even though if you asked half the people who actually wear that gear who Royce Gracie is, they probably wouldn’t have a clue-but that’s another column altogether).

Suddenly MMA was in demand and the UFC was the head of the juggernaut. It wasn’t long before fans in the Southern Hemisphere (myself included) were clamouring for UFC to bring their brand of combat Down Under to New Zealand and Australia and for a long time it felt like it was never going to happen.

As much as the hardcore fans wanted it, UFC didn’t seem to think that the trip down would be beneficial to them enough on a financial level. Then UFC 110 came along.

It was announced mid 2009: The UFC were finally going to come down south to Australia. Not only that but they were having a Pay Per View, live in Melbourne.

Even for the Kiwis that had to fork out the extra cash for travel, it was worth it for the experience.

UFC 110 was headlined by a heavyweight clash between Antonio Nogueira and Cain Velasquez and at that point was the 2nd fastest ever sell-out the UFC had ever had.

Interest in the combat sports had reached new heights on both sides of the Tasman and the UFC found a new untapped market for their product to reach.

Fast forward to 2015 and the intake for MMA classes are at an all time high. High schools are sending students to Greco Roman classes to improve their tackling skills for rugby. Mixed Martial Arts is recognised as the fastest growing sport in the world right now, breaking Pay Per View records left, right and centre.

The most well known female athlete in the world right now is a UFC Champion.

And now, after all the years of pushing for something that fight fans across the Tasman could really sink their teeth into, after all the online campaigns and hashtags imaginable, the UFC has given us UFC 193.

Arguably the most stacked card in terms of drawing power in a while, the UFC have put together a card that shows that they truly have faith in the appeal of MMA in Australia and New Zealand.

The card is headlined by the biggest superstar in sports today with the Undefeated Champion Ronda Rousey in probably the largest mismatch I have seen in recent memory with the number 8 ranked Holly Holm.

Rousey is on a hot streak of matches going under a minute against top contenders while Holm barely managed to win her last match via decision.

Holm’s evasive boxing skills may allow this one to go past the one minute mark but I honestly can’t see it lasting more than a round, especially if Ronda takes it to the ground.

A complete mismatch on paper but one that the live audience will be loud for.

The undercard should not be called so. It features two other matches that could be deemed ‘Main Event’ status fights when headlining in Australia.

Not only have UFC given us a ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey match but they have also given us a rematch of arguably the greatest heavyweight clash in UFC history with Mark Hunt facing off once again with Antonio Silva.

‘The Super Samoan’ will be the home country favourite. The Kiwi-raised fighter, residing in Australia went the distance against Silva in their last epic fight with its being ruled a majority draw with one judge ruling it 48-47 in Hunts favour while the other two judges ruled it 47-47.

Antonio will be out to redeem himself after failing the post-fight test for elevated testosterone levels after the last match. This alone has all the drawing power of a headline Main Event and those fans that don’t want to see a one sided beat down with Rousey v Holm should be held over with this colossus heavyweight brawl.

The other match on the under card that could of potentially headlined UFC 193 is the UFC veteran Michael Bisping taking on another home country sweetheart, Robert Whittaker.

Whittaker is an Australian born fighter of Maori descent and is the underdog in this case of the young buck taking on the old stallion. A win over someone at the level of Bisping could shoot Robert into the Top 10 of the Middleweight division along with a possible future title shot.

Bisping at this stage of his career is 36, 12 years older than the young Australian. While not a spring chicken in the Octagon, Bisping still has all the fire power to take out any young fighter who is brave enough to try make a name for themselves at his expense.

This should be an exciting fight with interesting implications for the winner. A win may see the Australian go from #14 to the Top 10 but on the other side of the coin, if Michael is to defeat the home town hero, we may see the old guard get one more title shot.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to UFC 193, happening November 14th at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. This card is not only a statement to how much the sport of MMA has grown in Australia and New Zealand but a thank you from the UFC to the loyal crowd of fight fans down here that fought for years against prejudice and stereotypes that have surrounded this great sport.

This is hopefully just a beginning for what is yet to come when it comes to UFC coming to the Tasman and perhaps in a few years, New Zealand may even get its own UFC Pay Per View.

One thing is for sure, looking at this amazing card for UFC 193, the fight for Down Under was well and truly worth it.

By Cameron Corban