Entering ONE Fight Night 10, one of the most talked about bouts featured the return of Sage Northcutt. The Texan had been out of action for four years following his ONE Championship debut. But on May 5, Northcutt stepped back inside the Circle and needed only 39 seconds to finish the job against Ahmed Mujtaba.
The shocking part was that it was not a 39-second knockout. Instead, “Super” Sage flashed his improved grappling with a heel hook submission finish. The bout, available for free to be replayed on Prime Video, marked one of the best feel-good stories of the year.
“[The fight] was definitely pretty fast. I’ve been working on my grappling a lot. The last few years, I’ve been really honing on it and working on it a ton. I’m really excited that I got to win by submission, and I got to show some of that grappling,” Northcutt said at the post-event press conference.
It did not take long for Northcutt to look toward the future. After claiming his $50,000 performance bonus, the 27-year-old began thinking about what comes next. During the press conference, he made it known he had not forgotten about Shinya Aoki.
“I did have a fight set up with Shinya Aoki. I think that will be a super exciting one. Looking at my finish now, I think my grappling has improved a lot. I got to show some grappling. He’s a great grappler. I think that would be a real exciting match,” Northcutt said.
His grappling has been improved at Team Alpha Male under the guidance of Urijah Faber. Northcutt never rested on his laurels while away from action, but that still never prepared the audience for what they saw inside the 1stBank Center. He entered in impeccable shape and showed the world he could be a complete mixed martial artist.
“I think one of the big things was the mindset. Of course, I’ve been training to stay sharp, but when I go out there, I’m looking for a finish. I’ve just been training with a great team, great coaches. We’ve been working all around to be very well-rounded and fix the holes in my game. Just been really staying in the gym, staying sharp,” Northcutt said.
The return of the Texan will serve as an inspiration for anyone who has faced adversity. ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong even remarked on how incredible his return was because, at one point, he was contemplating retirement. Back at lightweight, Northcutt is ready to contend.
“Super” Sage has always been known to seek the finish, and that has not changed. Now that he has added in more grappling, Northcutt wants to be aggressive on the ground as well. Not even in his athletic prime yet, he is far away from hitting his ceiling.
“I’ve been working on grappling a little bit but being offensive too. I figured I want to be a complete athlete out there and not just one aspect of the sport. So down there, I was really looking for a finish. That was the kind of mindset going in was I want to finish my opponent and do it any way possible. I saw an opening when he stood up, so I just took it,” Northcutt said.