EXCLUSIVE: Sage Northcutt Offers Some Insight into the ONE Championship World
Sage Northcutt is one of the most prominent MMA fighters of the world, who also boasts of a global fanbase. That said, his induction into ONE hasn’t been the most fortunate. However, he is still optimistic about his journey.
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In an interview with EssentiallySports, Northcutt disclosed his upcoming plans and MMA journey to date.
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- ES:- Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing well. Essentially Sports is privileged to be joined by the ONE FC superstar Sage Northcutt, welcome to the show Sage, Thanks for joining us.
- Sage:- Thank you.
- ES:- In not training with your sparring partner and having to train with your sister and her husband- like what were the differences you felt, what’s the difference in training at home and training in the gym?
- Sage:- Well, my sister is a great training partner. I have trained with her my whole life, so is Remy. He is one of the best kickboxing strikers in the planet, super skilled. His last few MMA fight, he knocked a guy out, super fantastic knockout and very skilled too. So, it’s always been great to train with them. Training at the house? I am always motivated, which is great, always try to stay motivated. I go out running sometimes early in the morning, like 5:30 in the morning, I get to road work in. And the other big thing is eating healthy and clean, so I make sure I have my diet really good.
- ES:- Yes, we know that diet would be a paramount in your life. Considering you have maintained such an insane physique despite the lockdown and despite all the restrictions. What is it that you eat, that compliments your exercise and your motivation?
- Sage:- Oh, thank you. So, I mean being an athlete you have to have enough protein. You have to eat a lots of vegetables, keep your immune system up, fruit and vegetables are very important for everything, your cardio, your conditioning, your immune system. So, everything like that. I try to eat is super clean. I get a lot of my food from ‘Trifecta’ which is nice. I don’t know whether you have heard of Trifecta nutrition or not…
- ES:- I’ve seen it on Instagram actually a lot.
- Sage:- Yes, it comes in handy a lot especially when the Corona stuff hit over here in the US and Los Angeles, California. The grocery stores had crazy lines and by the time you got there after waiting for hours plus. There was nothing in the grocery stores really, so they had a limit on everything. Yeah, so having the Trifecta food definitely helped me keep my diet clean and staying in shape for sure.
- ES:- Wow, that’s impressive!
- Sage:- Thanks.
- ES:- That’s impressive. Now you are in shape and you would be nearing a comeback soon. You are back in Mixed Martial Arts training. We saw another post you put on Instagram in the start of the month. How long has it been since you got the clearance from your doctors to engage in sparring with a partner?
- Sage:- Well, so as the moment I’ve still been getting scans, just checking up, making sure that I am being safe by everything is smart. But looking forward to fighting again, and I am getting training, going back again and making sure that I will be ready again, prepared to fight.
- ES:- And ONE Championship is back on air. They have aired three No-Surrender events from Thailand, and you are also ready to be back. Now, has ONE Championship approached you for a fight yet? Or do you feel that you would still need some more time, some more scans, and some more time to get into the groove of Mixed Martial Arts?
- Sage:– Well, unfortunately right now, with all the Corona stuff going on, I don’t believe that American fighters can get visas yet signed off because the COVID, to fly over. But I am looking forward to fighting, I know it’s almost going to be the end of the year soon, so looking forward to fighting in the beginning of next year, maybe something around January or something. I am gonna talk with One Championship about it and see how the COVID stuff plays out and definitely wanna make sure I’m prepared to go. So, with everything shut down, I wanna make sure that (when) things open back up, I have my training partners and I am training hard and prepared.
- ES:- That will surely happen soon and I am sure you will pick up even more as the months go on. Now when you do make your return in January, which you are targeting, you also said that you would like to feature on the same card as your sister Colby. Would that be an option that you all would explore, or is it going to be whoever gets booked first?
- Sage:- No, definitely an option for sure. Especially since, so right now if the people here in America were to fly over to overseas with COVID stuff going on. Then I can see my sister fighting right now but with that being on hold at the moment because of the COVID stuff going on, when it opens back up, hopefully, I’ll be able to fight again by then and me and Colby can fight in the same card, put on a great show for One Championship and I know I already made my debut at 185 pounds but now it can be a different debut, a fresh one for me because I am going back down to fight in lighter weight class and try to be my most dominant that I can be.
- ES:- Is there a sort of sibling rivalry, considering that Colby has won a fight at One and you haven’t? Does that put any added pressure on you, Sage?
- Sage:- No, you know what; it pumps me up. I am getting so pumped. Plus, I don’t like to lose, so I am out here even during the COVID stuff. I am eating healthier than ever. I am tearing up the bag; I am doing my cardio conditioning, staying in shape. So, I am getting ready and coming back strong, stronger than ever before.
- ES:- That’s great to hear Sage that you are going to be coming back stronger than ever. When you signed with One Championship, you said that you wanted to be a three-sport champion. So now your comeback will it be in Muay-Thai and Kickboxing? Or is the focus purely gonna be on Mixed Martial Arts for the moment?
- Sage:- For the moment I think it’s gonna be Mixed Martial Arts, after my last fight I wanna come back and go back in MMA and try to get a win in there and be dominant, put on a great show. I know all the fighters at One Championship are so talented. I have watched the last few cards since they restarted the fights again. For me, it starts at 5:30 AM, I get up every morning set my alarm, I’m watching them. Every week till they’ve had them. All the fighters are so talented but I still see myself fighting and everything, all three of the sports, and trying to be my best at every single one.
- ES:- But right now it’s gonna be purely Mixed Martial Arts? Yes?
- Sage:- For this next fight I’m planning Mixed Martial Arts, but after that definitely, definitely, oh yeah definitely. (Because) it will be a lot of fun too.
- ES:- And ONE championship has said that they won’t be letting in audiences into the arena until it’s absolutely safe for everyone. Now have you considered that your fight in January could be held behind closed doors, and would that have an impact on your performance in any way?
- Sage:- For me? I am gonna be so focussed. I plan on being super focused. It definitely would be weird just for the fact that when you have an audience, they pump you up, you’re there for the audience, trying to put on a great show for them. So when you hear them cheering, yelling, or they get excited because you did something cool or maybe you do something, a crazy punch or takedown and they all get pumped up. It pumps up the fighters too, so if there wasn’t an audience. I know that will be a little unfortunate because all the fans out there pump up the fighters but them being able to tune in and view online; it still pumps me up. So I know that they are watching and I’ll be going out and giving it my all for sure.
- ES:- And we saw that in the UFC, whenever you won, you would give the fans some insane somersaults in the octagon. Now that obviously I am assuming would be for the crowd in the arenas, and their cheers would motivate you even more after you finish the sequences. Would that still be an option if you win a fight behind closed doors? Would we still see those somersaults or would they not be featured at all?
- Sage:– No, definitely it will be featured. I mean, the fans will be watching, so I definitely want to do something cool for them. Who knows, I might even do something different that they (have) never seen before.
- ES:- Wow
- Sage:-I always like to do a different kind of trick or a flip. So, definitely.
- ES:- So you’ve got many options lined up to treat your fans
- Sage:– Definitely some different acrobatics, and different sport, Martial Arts, Karate moves for sure.
- ES:- That’s good to hear, Sage. Like your fans will have something new to watch -also- they are going to be looking really excited for this now. And also they will be excited to see you back at 155, which you said you are moving back to. This was where you initially started off in the UFC and were unbeaten, and then you moved up to 170 for a short notice fight, and then you moved up again. So, I am assuming that you are comfortable at 170 as well. Which brings me to the question as, why didn’t you debut at 170 in ONE Championship and instead opted to go to 185?
- Sage:- Well, it has just happened to work out that I was gonna fight at 185 lbs, just walk around my natural weight at the moment. My last fight for the organization I was fighting with before with the UFC was at 170 lbs, I knocked out my opponent, finished him with a Knockout. That was at 170. So I just figured that I would fight at 185 lbs, but obviously, we learn from our mistakes. That was a very large weight class, and obviously, he was a very talented opponent too, so now I am training harder than ever, I am gonna be getting out there, I’m training harder than ever I can, by myself right now, but gonna be getting out there training with my partners and team harder than ever and then going back down weight classes to fight.
- ES:- Would you say 155 is your best weight class? Because you have competed at four different weights in MMA. Would you say it’s your best or you are moving back to something you feel you very comfortable in and have had success in?
- Sage:- The thing that I think is, I mean, I have been undefeated at 155 lbs, I was 5-0 in the UFC at that weight class and now fighting for ONE Championship. I was 19 when I first came into the UFC, now I am 24 years old. I think me eating clean like I always do, pushing the cardio and conditioning, training super hard like I always do. I believe me fighting at that weight class will be very good for me. I think I will be able to display my skill set against a lot of talented opponents, and I feel like it will be a fitting weight class. I can also see 170 being a great weight class for me, but definitely one of those two for sure.
- ES:- You are open to going to the lightweight in the future as well, in addition to the Muay Thai and Kickboxing at Featherweight?
- Sage:- Yes, in the future, I am open to accept. I understand I am still just 24 years old and obviously I know people don’t hit their prime until they’re 30, 31, 32, 33 years old I’ve heard, so I know people’s muscle and their body mature as they grow older. So, I can see that in the future, but for now, 155 lbs at Featherweight. That’s what I am looking forward to.
- ES:- And if you had the option of picking your opponent right now at featherweight. Who would it be and why?
- Sage:- So that’s you know I gonna talk to ONE Championship about it and see what, I guess who they have me to fight obviously when the times comes. I am not picking any opponents in mind, but I am watching the opponents at ONE Championship. I have been studying on the featherweight division and watching their fighters. So, and the previous fights just went on the past few weeks and ONE championship, so definitely keeping my eyes out and making notes.
- ES:- And if you are competing at the featherweight, obviously the end goal would be the championship, which is currently held by Martin Nguyen. How would you see yourself stylistically fair in a fight against Martin?
- Sage:- I think he is very talented. I think that people say he is known for trying to punch hard, and he is very skilled; he has a great team behind him, where he trains. So I think he is a great opponent for the future, and I think he has done a great job, especially with the title and his whole entire fighting career. Him and all the fighters at ONE Championship are very skilled and they have a skill set, they’re the best at whether it is Boxing, Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing, whatever it might be. They are some of the skilled guys in the world, so he is definitely a very talented guy.
- ES:- At ONE Championship you fight at your walk-in weight rather than undergoing a weight cut. Would you say that benefits you in a fight, or are you used to doing the weight cut, or you didn’t get to experience that at all with 185?
- Sage:- No, for 185 lbs I didn’t do any weight cut. But anybody that asks me, or anybody that knows me or that was there knows that when you drink a gallon of water, you weigh around 8 lbs about 2 gallons 16 lbs. Before fighting at 185 lbs I was drinking gallons of water for the hydration, so yeah 8+ lbs even 10, 12, 14 lbs. I don’t even know how much, a lot, eating breakfast and stuff and was still underweight without even trying to cut the weight. So my plan is to walk around in my natural weight. At natural weight, I am training hard, at the natural weight, I am just fighting more naturally at.
- ES:- And now Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA has announced that he is bringing over a lot of his talent to ONE Championship. He has announced fighters for the heavyweight division, but he said that he is not going to restrict himself only to heavyweight. Are you excited about being possibly booked to fight some of his talent? Perhaps the likes of Usman Nurmagomedov, who also fights at 155?
- Sage:- Wait, so I missed that. Sorry, my phone cut out. You said who was that that’s bringing the talent over?
- ES:- Ali. Ali Abdelaziz, he is bringing over new talent. Would you be open to fighting some of his talent, perhaps someone like Usman Nurmagomedov, who also fights at 155?
- Sage:- Oh cool, you know whoever ONE Championship decides for me to fight and what they have in mind, obviously talk it over with my team but I have never been one opposed to turn down fights. For instance, my fight at 185 lbs, my last fight, I know it didn’t go as planned. Cosmo was actually a last made change of opponent, pretty last minute, because my opponent that originally had, got an injury, so I have never been that kind of person, that’s like I am not gonna fight this person or this person. But definitely will talk it over my team for sure and ONE Championship.
- ES:- You mentioned that somewhere down the line you would move back to 170, but if I ask you right now, if you ever had the chance, would you go back to 185 and rematch Cosmo Alexandre and try to beat him?
- Sage:– Well at 185 lbs, I mean that weight class obviously that weight class is too big for my body, talked with my coaches, that’s like me walking around my natural weight, eating breakfast, whatever but I am still under the weight-class so 185 lbs is a very large weight class. I mean, you look at the most talented strikers in the world like let’s talk about boxing; I believe the weight class between boxing even also has three-pound increments, about 3 or 4 I believe, so yeah every pound does matter. It does make a difference. But no, at the moment I am solely focussed on 155 lbs.
- ES:- That’s great to hear Sage and we are tentatively setting a return date for January 2021, but you will be appearing on ONE Championship programming much sooner than that? Because we know that you are going to be one of the pros of The Apprentice: ONE Championship edition. Now what sort of a role would you be playing in that show, and how excited are you for that?
- Sage:- I am so excited that’s gonna be so cool. For the role? I don’t know exactly what they have in mind for sure but I know whatever it is, ONE Championship is super creative and they have some of the coolest stuff in the world, and even when they have their people walking out at ONE Championship, they got fireworks and stuff I’ve never seen before in a MMA match, so I am excited to see what they even come up with for the Apprentice and I am excited for something too.
- ES:- And what do you make of a show that has a competition to get more candidates on the business side of the things? Like the UFC has shows but they do but it’s like the Contender Series and the Ultimate Fighter to get people on the fighting side of things. Should the UFC and other American organizations also learn from ONE championship and do something for the business side of things?
- Sage:- Sure, I think so, for the fact being that like Mr. Chatri, he is a very humble businessman but like him building ONE Championship from scratch and I believe it’s a multi-billion dollar, if I am saying it right, company. This is so amazing. So for him being able to have done that and for him to offer the opportunity for the winner that comes off the Apprentice to be able to work directly with him. I think that’s so cool. And for him to offer something like that and give people a chance like that. That’s really awesome. He is a great guy.
- ES:- Certainly a great guy and that’s certainly is a groundbreaking opportunity and now speaking of the United States, ONE was set to air shows back in North America. How excited would you be to compete in front of your home fans again in a different organization?
- Sage:- Oh, that’d be so cool. I know my fans would be freaking out. They’ll be so pumped, they would be so excited. I mean I know they were getting up, watching me, early in the morning and stuff when I had my last fight with ONE Championship but they will be super excited to see me fight in America.
- ES:- Now, in the United States, the unique selling points of fights is the trash-talking, and ONE Championship believes that respect in martial arts is the key. Now do you feel that ONE Championship would have to engage in trash-talking to survive in the United States, or is it unnecessary? What are your views on trash talking and fights?
- Sage:- No, I don’t believe they have to trash talk. I think they are bringing something great into the environment and around all the people, around the world, having that positivity like they do, the same kind of characteristics that I try to carry and have, not trash-talking, having respect and honor. That what martial arts is about I know a lot of people in the organizations here in America like to trash talk because they like they try to to get their fans in but if you look at what’s going in the community right now, in the world, imagine ONE Championship was over here and they have the respect, honor, and discipline, and they have all these talented fighters that are respectful. That is really cool, I think a lot of people in the United States definitely watch that and tune in.
- ES:- Certainly be a change with what the United States audiences are used to. But do you feel that sometimes trash-talking adds extra pressure on the athletes when they compete; like they have taken the trash-talking at such an extent that even the clinic of martial arts will not satisfy the fans?
- Sage: That’s the thing. I mean people that trash talk so much; if they lose their fight and they’re trash-talking, it’s kind of like what did they become. I mean, you have people that are respectful and they’re based on honor and discipline throughout their fighting. They’re giving it their all, I mean they are kind of looked at as like superheroes. Like Mr. Chatri says, little kids from around the world, you’d want your, if you are a mom or a dad, you’d want your kid to look up to them. If they were to (look up to) any fighters you’d want them to look at, look up to the ONE Championship fighters and try to be like them because they carry themselves very well.
- ES:- And you responded to Dana White for his comments following your debut at Enter The Dragon. Now when you step back into the cage or the ring. Will there be a motivation for you to prove him wrong again and make him realize that he spoke too soon or will you just be focussed on being the best version of yourself?
- Sage:- Actually, I haven’t even thought about his words at all. Yeah, no, because I believe I’m young; I’m 24-year-old just getting started. That was only one fight, I was fighting at 185 lbs and people didn’t know my training camp going in and what was going on, fighting two injuries if you ask my coaches. Just different kind of things before having the fight. Obviously you learn from your mistakes and going back down weight classes. That was one fight, one fight doesn’t define who you are. I mean if you look at some other fights of my career and now where I have taken myself to become better. You can either take a loss and let it drag you down and think of every negative thing, or you can take that loss and be like I am never gonna let that happen again. I will try never to make the same mistakes again and I’m like, make myself better all around, so I am looking at the positive sides. I am gonna take myself and make myself better than ever, and I am not gonna make those same mistakes.
- ES:- This is something I’m sure our young listeners could pay heed to, because this can be applied to any profession, in any field, martial artist, corporate, anything.
- Sage:- Yeah.
- ES:-And now Sage, we have got a few questions from our fans. And one fan is touched upon the thing that you did on the field where you were pushing a huge object and you turned it around two-three times. Now, what brought that on the show of strength?
- Sage:- Oh thanks, I have trained, obviously eating healthy, but I’ve trained lots of leg exercises since I was a little kid. I’m trying to make what video they’re talking about exactly. Do you know what video it is?
- ES: You were in the field actually, and you were on the grass, and you were pushing one huge object, looked like a big haybale sort of thing.
- Sage:- Oh right with the hay, okay, yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about. So that was kind of like a farm boy’s (strengths), just kind of working out, helping my family, helping people out, lift heavy things since I was a kid but working out, trying to get all my little tiny muscles on my body as strong as possible. When I was a little kid, I was doing, at 4-5-years-old; I was doing 250 pushups and situps every single day, at like 5-6 years old, I was doing about 500 every single day, up until I started to train martial arts super hard and got into MMA but that kind of stuff kind of built up a core strength of my body and I have always tried to keep that.
- ES:- That’s impressive Sage, I mean I was awed by that show of strength!
- Sage: Thank you.
- ES: And tell us something about your cats. You post pictures of them on Instagram. One was at the wheel of your car and you said like, ‘This is why I don’t let him drive’. The other one was with your six-pack. Can you tell us how long have you had them? What are their names?
- Sage:- Oh, those cats are cool. Gucci is she’s got more of the spots on her and she is an Asian leopard cat, and then she has a little bit of a domestic character in her, so she is really pretty and she is almost a year old, my other cat’s name is Sushi. Sushi is the big one. She has got that big old belly, and she’s part bobcat. So she is really interesting. They have really cool personalities.
- ES:- Are they here with you or are they back at home?
- Sage: What was that?
- ES: Are they with you right now or are they back at home?
- Sage:- Yeah, they are with me; they are actually inside the house right now. I wonder, yeah let me see if I can, I think they might be sleeping though. Yeah, it’s nighttime, I think they might be sleeping actually right now.
- ES:- Oh okay. No worries, don’t disturb them right now!
- ES:- Who would you label as the toughest opponent you have faced in your career till date?
- Sage:- Toughest opponent? Man, I would obviously say my last opponent after the way the fight turned out. I know it’s hard to say though because I didn’t really get to show much in my last fight, unfortunately, but it has happened to a bunch of great champions that have been the best fighters of all time. They’ve had a point in their life pretty much, almost every one of them where they have lost except Khabib or Jon Jones, for instance, pretty much. But a lot of them have lost very fast, I mean the first like 5 seconds, 10 seconds, you don’t get to show what you have practiced, tried to get ready for. So it’s hard to say what my toughest opponent is, but I would say that fight.
- ES:- Now your last fight, which you mentioned was held in a ring. Would you say that that had an impact on your fight, the surroundings had an impact, or that’s no excuse?
- Sage:- No, I am not the kind of person to make an excuse. Of course, it did have a little bit of an impact just for the fact that I didn’t train in a boxing ring and I didn’t really know about the boxing ring until pretty close to the fight. So that’s definitely a different environment, different kind of like being in a square, a totally different set up with the ropes and everything, it’s a little bit different feeling, I wish I would have got to practice in it. But now I know for the future. But yeah, no excuses though.
- ES:- How soon did they tell you whether it is going to be in a boxing ring or a cage?
- Sage:- I actually don’t remember. I just know it was pretty soon before the fight that I found out, but now we are thinking about it and finding out when I get my fight booked, to see what it is, and make sure I am training in it.
- ES: You’re going to get this notified in advance now?
- Sage:- Oh yeah
- ES: If I had to ask you about one opponent from any organization in the world, which you would like to face? Who would that be and why?
- Sage:- Oh, that’s a good one. One opponent from anywhere in the world, any organization, I am trying to think. I mean fighting at 155 lbs or even like, that’s tough, I probably want to face, there’s a lot right now, right? Fighting organizations.
- ES: It’s a fantasy booking. It’s a sort of fantasy booking.
- Sage:- Probably Bruce Lee, but I know he is no longer. Yeah, Bruce Lee, because I love doing sidekicks, Bruce Lee loves doing sidekicks. Both have a karate style, I think it would be a really cool matchup.
- ES:- Despite having a background in Karate, you also are quite adept, quite good in submission game as well. Would you prefer the karate game? Or would you prefer the submission game? Or do you feel that one sort of martial arts sets up the other form?
- Sage:- It all depends pretty much on the fighter that you are fighting. What you decide to do and I feel like one form does set the other form but you have to have a little tiny transitions down and you have to have muscle memory, otherwise, it won’t flow right. Now, as Bruce Lee says, you gotta be like water, so definitely want to flow, but yeah definitely.
- ES:- And you mentioned about different entrances at ONE Championship and when you showed me your exercise equipment, I noticed a Naruto poster, so could we have an entrance along the lines of a Naruto connection, next time we see you?
- Sage:- I have been thinking about it. It’s got the SAGE mode. I have been watching the show. Yeah, you get the Sage mode going on and that’s pretty cool and not everybody can do the SAGE mode. So I am thinking about it. He looks pretty similar too. He has got the spikey hair, blonde. You might just see something like that.
- ES: You can totally cosplay him, you know. I will be believing that it’s Naruto walking out.
- Sage:- That will be so cool, I am actually thinking about it, we will see.
- ES: And one more question, Sage. What sports do you follow apart from Mixed martial arts? Like are you a fan of any teams in the US?
- Sage:- No, I watch a variety of sports all the time between football, basketball. I have friends that are all in different teams. Ex-NFL players, NFL players that I watch right now. A guy I went to school with, in high school, that plays for the Bengals. Yup, and then I watch all sorts of stuff even like the crazy stuff like Motocross, Supercross on dirt bikes and I know how to ride a dirt bike myself. Can’t do any flips on it, I’ve never tried flips. But I can ride wheelies and stuff. But yeah, I watch a lot of sports.
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- ES: Which team do you support in football?
- Sage:- I mean, that’s a tough one because there are so many good teams. I don’t even want to say a certain team because I have friends that play on all different teams, so…
- ES: As a boy growing up, before you made those friends, which team would you support? You can safely say that you know without upsetting your friends, perhaps?
- Sage:- I mean, I grew up in Texas, so I got the Cowboys, I got the Texas Cowboys in Dallas. I mean they are always a really great team and man, it’s tough to say now.
- ES: And I won’t pressurize you on that because like you got friends and they might not like when you don’t support their teams. Sage, we hope to see you back competing soon. All the best for your comeback and thank you so much for giving us your time on this episode with us, would you like to say anything to the fans before we go off-air?
- Sage:- Oh yeah, you bet! So I’ll be getting ready, I’ll be training harder than ever, obviously training by myself right now. But gonna be getting back into the gym with all my teammates here soon. Gonna be hitting it super hard and I’ll be posting stuff on my social media, my Instagram. It’s Super Sage Northcutt, post some cool training footage here, soon. My Twitter is Sage Northcutt and Facebook is Sage Northcutt be sure to check it out and you can always send me messages and I will try to get back to you guys and respond and thanks for tuning in.
- ES: Thank you so much Sage and that’s all we have. We will see you soon on another episode. Stay safe and bye for now.
- Sage: Alright cool! Alright, thanks so much!
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