Sage Northcutt has been a bit of a controversial character since his arrival in the UFC at the ripe age of 18. The Texas native came up into the league via Dana White’s Looking For A Fight reality show and received the kind of promotional push most fighters can only dream of … before ever accomplishing much in the Octagon at all. As you’d expect from even the most talented of youths his age, his inexperience in the cage resulted in middling results … namely a 3-2 record as he struggled to juggle university and fighting.
Last year Northcutt put his education on hold to focus on fighting and returned after a year off to a win. His home state fight at UFC Austin was against Thibault Gouti (1-3 UFC), which is about as easy a fight as you’re going to get at this level. But unfortunately for the UFC he still struggled to win, getting rocked in rounds one and two by Gouti on the feet, only to be given a bit of a gift of a decision 29-28 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Gouti’s fatal flaw was not following up when he had Sage hurt. In the first, he nearly knocked Northcutt out but instead of swinging he went for a front choke. Northcutt recovered and went on to potentially win the round (and fight) off volume strikes. It was a similar situation in the second, with Sage peppering Gouti with an endless supply of single shots, Gouti nearly taking his head off once, and then Gouti pressing Sage against the cage instead of separating and continuing to strike.
Fans watching were not impressed with what they saw was a ridiculous gift of a decision for Sage.
The sad reality here is that Sage may be fast and technically proficient (he threw a lot of impressive spinning s**t throughout the fight), but he has a hard time taking a strong punch and probably isn’t going to ever reach the top of the lightweight division no matter how many MetroPCS commercials he appears in. There’s a silver lining there for the UFC should they choose to realize it: if they just put their damn promotional machine behind an athlete, they can break through and be popular … even if they aren’t the best fighter in the world.