Zak Ottow: “I’m Definitely Going to be the Toughest Fight [Sage Northcutt’s] Ever Had”

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Zak Ottow is more than ready for the huge opportunity facing him next Saturday at UFC Fight Night 133. 

“The Barbarian” (16-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) battles Sage Northcutt (10-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the co-main event. Ottow’s excited not only for the co-main slot, but being able to fight someone with the popularity of Northcutt.

“I really like it because we’re going to get a lot of eyes,” Ottow told MMASucka. “It’s a good opportunity for me to create some new fans. He has a lot of followers on social media. It seems whenever he fights, the viewers that FOX reports tend to go up.”

Ottow feels two of his key advantages are size and strength of schedule.

“He has a lot of potential but it’s still a little too early for him to fight me,” Ottow said. “He’s been fighting a lot of bottom of the roster guys. I’m not one of those.”

“Bryan Barberena has fought at 155 and 170, Mickey Gall is making his way down,” he continued. “This will be his first time fighting a legit 170’er and I don’t think it’ll go well for him. Once he starts eating a couple of power shots, then he’ll try turning it into a grappling match, which will be even worse for him.”

In terms of exposure and building a fanbase, Ottow sees the fight as the biggest opportunity of his career. He doesn’t think a win over Northcutt will do much for him in the rankings, though he hopes it will get him a crack at a top-25 welterweight.

A win would be Ottow’s second in a row after he finished veteran Mike Pyle in his last fight. He holds victories over Kiichi Kunimoto and Josh Burkman as well. His only two UFC defeats have come to Sergio Moraes and the heavy-handed Li Jingliang.

“Out of my six UFC fights, I think he’s towards the lower-end of my opponents, if not, the last out of my six,” Ottow said. “I’m definitely going to be the toughest fight he’s ever had.”

Northcutt is 5-0 when at 155 lbs. with dominant wins over Francisco Trevino and Michel Quinones. He struggled on the ground with Cody Pfister before submitting him, and eked out close decision wins against Thibault Gouti and Enrique Marin. He’s yet to win at 170, as Gall and Barberena both submitted him in the second round.

“I don’t necessarily think the welterweight move is a horrible move for [Northcutt],” Ottow said. “I do think he has a decent-sized frame. Against bigger people, he has the speed advantage. I think it’s been the caliber of fighters. I think Barberena and Gall are better fighters than the guys they’ve given him at 155. I’m surprised there weren’t a couple of split decisions.

“Now he’s fighting me and it’s more of a skill-set thing than the weight. I’m sure he’ll be plenty strong for the weight class and quick but I don’t think he has the skill-set anywhere the fight goes to hang with me.”

Ottow predicts he’ll finish Northcutt in the first or second round.

“It’s not going to go past that,” he said. “I’m going to get a finish for sure. I don’t mind keeping it on the feet but once he feels my power, he’ll initiate the grappling exchange. And then from there it’ll be a quick night.”

Ottow and Northcutt will compete in the second to last bout on the UFC’s Boise, ID offering. The event is slated to go down on Saturday, July 14 and can be caught on FOX Sports 1.

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Michael is a big MMA fan who enjoys interviewing the sport's athletes, writing about the sport, and just discussing it. He earned his Master's in Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and his B.A. in Journalism at Stony Brook University. He also enjoys hockey, football and baseball. Feel free to hit him up if you want to discuss MMA, or any other sport!

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