Sage Northcutt wants to test his grappling against Shinya Aoki’s after ONE Fight Night 10.
Northcutt (12-3) was booked to face Aoki (47-11-1) in April 2021, but lingering COVID-19 effects forced him out of the bout. He returned from a four-year layoff this past Friday at 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colo., and needed just 39 seconds to submit Ahmed Mujtaba (10-3) by heel hook.
As for what’s next, 27-year-old Northcutt said he wants to revisit the Aoki fight, and ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong is on board.
“I did have one set up with Shinya Aoki, and I think that would be a super exciting one,” Northcutt said at the ONE Fight Night 10 post-fight press conference. “Looking through my finishes now, you can see my grappling has improved a lot, and I got to show some grappling. He’s a great grappler. I think that would be a really exciting match.”
Northcutt, who trains out of Team Alpha Male, is not short of strong grapplers in his gym and was glad to show off that part of his game in the fight.
“It was definitely pretty fast,” Northcutt said. “I’ve been working my grappling a lot. So, for the last few years, I’ve been really honing in on it and working on it a ton. I’m really excited that I got to win out there and get a submission, and got to show some of that grappling.”
Not only did Northcutt return from a long layoff, it was one in which he had to recover from a brutal injury suffered in a knockout loss to Cosmo Alexandre in May 2019. Northcutt underwent a nine-hour surgery to repair eight facial fractures and used the time off to work on his game.
“I think one of the big things was the mindset,” Northcutt said of his win. “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. Really 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.”