LAS VEGAS –The way Urijah Faber sees it, free agent Sage Northcutt belongs in the UFC.
“The ideal thing, in my opinion, would be for Sage to be a UFC world champion,” Faber told MMA Fighting on Monday.
But at the same time, Faber has always had one of the best business senses of any fighter in the MMA game, and he also understands that a matchup between the Team Alpha Male standout and the YouTube superstar could potentially make Northcutt a lot of money in a hurry.
“He’s got to look at every opportunity and right now he’s a free agent,” said Faber, who was in town promoting the Quintet 3 grappling event at Orleans Arena on Oct. 5. “And if that’s something that can be set up, it could be a really smart financial move. And actually there’s some really intriguing stuff if you look at it.”
The recent boxing match between Paul and rapper KSI in England caught the attention of the mixed martial arts world on multiple levels. Hardcore fans were revulsed by the idea that inexperienced competitors commanded so much attention. But those with a keener business eye noted the event’s financial success.
“That boxing match, they promoted their own show, they had 22,000 people in the arena, they had a big PPV, monetized the thing,” Faber said.
So when Paul and Northcutt started taking swipes at one another on social media, Faber started to see the potential.
“I mean, Logan Paul is a big, able-bodied guy,” Northcutt said. “He actually finished fifth in the state of Ohio at 184 pounds for wrestling. Division 1 for Ohio is really really competitive, it’s not like he’s a stranger to combat sports. He’s done some boxing. If they wanted it, they could put it together. It’s a possibility.”
Faber won’t scoff at the notion Paul could become a credible competitor. This is, after all, the same business in which the late Kimbo Slice went from backyard brawling videos to huge money and television ratings when he went legit. Faber said that if Paul, who had a successful high school wrestling career, showed up at Team Alpha Male, he’d relish the challenge of making him into a real fighter.
“When I was 23 years old, I had just finished my wrestling career,” Faber said. “I was top 12 in the nation in the NCAA. And I was top 12 in the state in California. As far as criteria goes, being a high school wrestler that placed in Ohio which is a big state, that’s already saying he already works hard and he understands about combat sports. So it’s not like, if he wanted to start a career at 23 and join Team Alpha Male, I’d be excited to work with someone like that. He’s a big strong guy, he believes in himself, I’d think I can mold this guy into a champion by the time he’s 28, 29. It’s not out of the question.”
Now, whether Paul could actually defeat Northcutt in a fight? That’s where Faber is going to draw the line.
“Sage on the other hand is a special guy,” Faber said. “He’s a talented guy, he knows his wrestling, he’s getting better every day at mixed martial arts. So the chances of him getting beat by Logan Paul are slim to none.”
Of course, the idea of Northcutt vs. Paul in a YouTube spectacle will all be moot if Northcutt re-signs with the UFC. Given the amount of time and energy the UFC has put into pushing Northcutt, and given Northcutt is just now starting to grow into expectations with a long career ahead of him, Faber hopes both sides can come to a deal.
“I’ve talked to the UFC and I said look, this is the place for Sage, he can be world champion in the UFC,” Faber said. “For them, that would be massive. For Sage, that would be massive. Now the question is, it is going to be much more lucrative for him to go somewhere else as a prizefighter, can you get paid double or triple somewhere else? That’s the question.”
“I think what happens in this scenario is, you go out on the free market and you see what else is out there, and then you see what the UFC is offering,” Faber continued. “UFC has spent a lot of time, energy, and effort building Sage, he’s one of the poster boys for everything they represent, their stores, their sponsors, so it makes sense that they would make him a good offer. If you have to explain that to other fighters or not? Too bad. You’re not Sage Northcutt. If you don’t like it, I went through the same thing. The world is not equal, unfortunately. If you want something, you gotta fight for it. Sage his done his homework.”