Sage Northcutt’s ONE Championship debut couldn’t have gone any worse.
After leaving the UFC on a three-fight winning streak at welterweight and lightweight, the 23-year-old met Brazilian kickboxer veteran Cosmo Alexandre at 185 pounds and was knocked out in just 29 seconds.
Northcutt suffered extensive injuries in the fight, including eight fractures that required a nine-hour surgery in Singapore after this May debut.
In his first interview since that loss, Northcutt told MMA Fighting he still hasn’t been able to train.
“It’s been taking a while to heal up,” Northcutt said. “The main thing is my nerves in my face. When I had the injury with the breaks, they almost sliced the nerves all the way through, so my nerve feelings are coming back. I’m waiting for the doctors to give me the OK to come back, but as of now, I haven’t had any kind of MMA training for the last five or six months since my injury, since my fight.”
The ONE Championship star was concerned he could never get hit in the face again after such a serious injury. But he remained positive that everything would eventually work out.
“Obviously that’s a scary thought for anybody that would have the extent of the injury that I did,” Northcutt said. “But I’m always shooting for the best.”
Northcutt is hoping he’ll be medically cleared to train so he can get back into the gym “some time in the beginning of this next year.” As of yet, he has has no timetable for his next fight.
“I’m hoping it’s as soon as possible, because I’m super eager,” he said. “All I’ve been able to do is eat as healthy as I can. Just now I’ve been able to start working out a little bit with some weights and trying to stay in shape.”
Northcutt doesn’t regret fighting Alexandre at 185 pounds in Singapore. But he learned that competing at that weight was too much for him.
“Obviously I wish that my injury didn’t happen, and I wasn’t set back for five or six months without getting training and improving myself better,” he said. “I am going back down to 155, where I was undefeated,” Northcutt said. “I was 5-0 in the UFC previously at the weight class. I’ve been undefeated my whole career at that weight class, so I think that’s gonna help out. I was really in a weight class that was too big for me, 185, and I think that had part to do with it also.”
Northcutt’s plans could be complicated by ONE Championship’s emphasis on preventing extreme weight cuts. He won’t be able to dehydrate himself severely to hit the 155-pound mark.
“I started fighting at 155 when I was 18 or 19 years old,” he said. “I definitely have more muscles now, (and) I am gonna have to lose a little bit of muscle because muscle-mass-wise, if I think if I had zero percent body fat, zero all the water I can lose in my body, I would have a hard time making 155. I will have to lose some muscle.
“I’m gonna be faster, gonna be quicker. And for that weight class, I’m gonna have plenty of muscle. I think it’s gonna be great.”
Despite the setback in his promotional debut, Northcutt’s goals remain the same from earlier this year: win the ONE Championship belts in MMA, muay thai and kickboxing.
“I still plan on doing that,” Northcutt said. “Going back down to 155, I think that’s the weight class for me. I still believe I can do that. I’ve learned a lot of things from having that last fight I just had, and I think I’m gonna be a better Sage from it.”