On May 5, ‘Super’ Sage Northcutt will make his long-awaited return to the circle as part of ONE Championship’s historic debut in the United States. Nearly three years removed from his disastrous promotional debut, Northcutt will look to get back into the win column against the dangerous Pakistani fighter Ahmed Mujtaba. The two warriors will square off as part of the promotion’s ONE Fight Night 10 on Prime Video event.
Ahead of his highly anticipated return, we take a look at three questions surrounding Northcutt’s comeback this spring.
#1. What kind of fighter will Sage Northcutt be in 2023?
Three years removed from his last appearance inside the circle, fans could be in store for a much different fighter than the one we became familiar with during his time competing in North America. However, Sage Northcutt has remained largely quiet about his development in recent years.
Anyone familiar with ‘Super’ knows that his Achilles heel has been the ground game. Hopefully, Northcutt has spent some time away from the cage honing his jiu-jitsu skills, but we simply won’t know for sure until he’s inside the circle.
Northcutt’s opponent will walk into their matchup with four career submissions, showing that he is more than capable of getting the job done on the ground. This is something Northcutt will need to be prepared for, but if he can stop the takedowns and keep things on the feet, he stands a solid chance of getting his first win under the ONE Championship banner.
#2. Are there lingering mental effects from his savage KO loss to Cosmo Alexandre?
Sage Northcutt’s ONE Championship debut in May 2019 was a memorable moment, but for all the wrong reasons. ‘Super’ stepped into the circle against martial arts standout Cosmo Alexandre and immediately paid the price. Northcutt found himself face down on the canvas after Alexandre landed a bone-crushing right hook just 29 seconds into the bout. The strike was so devastating that Northcutt underwent nine hours of surgery to repair eight fractures in his face.
After going through something so devastating, one has to wonder about the lingering mental effects that may remain. When Sage Northcutt steps into the circle on May 5, will he find himself lacking in confidence and gun shy? Will he be reluctant to pull the trigger in fear that the return fire will once again rearrange his photogenic face?
Again, it’s largely a wait-and-see situation, but suffice it to say that nobody could blame Northcutt if he returns to the circle only to find that fear has sapped his ability to be competitive. This type of injury could permanently change any athlete.
#3. Will Sage Northcutt finally get the win he seeks in ONE?
Whether or not Sage Northcutt gets his elusive first win inside the circle largely hinges on the answers to the first two questions asked. Has ‘Super’ improved his skills in the last three years, and will he still be competitive despite the devastating injury he suffered?
He will go into his ONE Fight Night 10 bout against a similarly experienced opponent in Pakistani MMA champion Ahmed Mujtaba. With an impressive 10-2 record in his career, Mujtaba has proven to be proficient both on the feet and on the ground. He puts pressure on his opponents but, at times, can be a little overzealous, opening himself up to takedown attempts. This could be the opening that Northcutt needs to get the job done, assuming ‘Super’ has spent some time on his ground game in recent years.
Based on the Sage Northcutt we all know and remember, the standup game is going to be his best bet, but we’re still looking at a 50/50 scenario.